Lehighton & Carbon County Student Loan Debt Attorney
Finding realistic solutions to student loan problems in Lehigh and Carbon County
Astonishingly, more money is currently owed on student debt than credit cards nationwide. In fact, more money is owed on student debt than any other category of debt except for mortgage debt. Consumers struggling with credit card debt can find relief through Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and those with mortgage issues can save their home with a Chapter 13 bankruptcy or other means to avoid foreclosure. What help is there for young college graduates trying to start a family and build the American dream while saddled with oppressive student loan debt? The good news is that you do have options. If you’re in Lehigh, Schuylkill or Carbon County, call the Law Office of Adam R. Weaver, Esq. to discuss your concerns with a skilled and knowledgeable Lehighton & Carbon County student loan debt attorney.
What options are available to deal with student loan debt?
If you thought there was no hope of ever freeing yourself of that burdensome student loan, you’ll be surprised to learn that there are many options available to deal with student loan debt. These options include:
Federal loan forgiveness – Through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, you can have the remaining balance on your direct loans forgiven once you’ve made 120 qualifying monthly payments pursuant to a qualifying repayment plan while employed full-time for a qualifying employer. You may even be eligible for loan forgiveness if your application was denied by applying for reconsideration under the Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness opportunity. In case you couldn’t tell, there are a lot of hoops to jump through to qualify for federal loan forgiveness, but it’s worthwhile to investigate whether you may be one who qualifies.
Income-based repayment – With an income-based repayment plan, your monthly payment will be set an affordable amount based on your income and family size. Payments can be as low as $0 per month, depending on your income.
Income-contingent repayment – Changes in income can affect changes in your payment amount under this method. This plan may be more or less beneficial depending on anticipated changes in income.
Deferment – If you qualify for deferment, you’ll be able to temporarily reduce the amount you have to pay or temporarily stop making payments altogether, without going into default. A related opportunity is forbearance, although under forbearance you may still be responsible for paying interest that accrues on the loan during the period of forbearance, which is generally not the case while loan payments are deferred.
Extension – If trying to pay off that student loan in ten years is grinding you down, consider an Extended Repayment Plan that lets you extend the payoff over as much as 25 years.
Are there any ways to fight the debt?
If the following conditions apply, you may be able to get a determination that your student loan should not actually be repaid. You’ll likely need a lawyer to litigate these issues on your behalf.
Your debt may be stale (outdated). If that’s the case, bill collectors can still try to collect from you, but they don’t have access to the courts to back them, get a judgment or enforce it. How this works differs depending on whether your student loan is federal or private and the laws of the state governing your loan agreement (which may not be Pennsylvania). Talk to a lawyer if you think the debt may be stale, and be careful about making payments that may re-age a stale debt.
The bill collector may not own the debt. Your debt may have been sold, resold, bundled and repackaged a number of times. Sometimes the company trying to collect can’t prove they own the debt or are authorized to collect it when they are confronted by a knowledgeable and experienced debt collection lawyer.
The debt may be fraudulent. If your student loan was given to you without the required loan disclosures or under other predatory lending and fraudulent practices, you may be able to fight back against enforcement of the debt.
You may be eligible for a disability discharge. If you are considered unemployable by Veterans Affairs due to a service-connected condition, or if you’re the recipient of Social Security Disability (SSD) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you may qualify to have your student loan discharged.
Is student loan debt dischargeable in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy?
Yes and no. Many people have been led to believe that student loan debt cannot be discharged in bankruptcy, but this is not necessarily the case. If you can prove that the student loan is an undue financial hardship, the loan may be discharged in a Chapter 7 proceeding. Proving undue hardship is challenging and requires filing a type of bankruptcy litigation known as an adversary hearing. Proving financial hardship requires you to prove the following under the so-called Brunner test:
- Extenuating circumstances create a hardship that is likely to continue for the term of the loan
- You have made good faith attempts to repay the loan
- You’ve proven undue hardship in an adversary proceeding
- You can’t pay the loan and maintain a minimum standard of living
Lehighton bankruptcy attorney Adam Weaver has experience dealing with student loan issues in bankruptcy. He worked on Biege v. Sallie Mae, a case in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania dealing with the issue of dischargeability of interest after a student loan was paid under a confirmed Chapter 13 plan.
Get the Help You Need to Deal with Burdensome Student Loan Debt in Lehighton
If you can’t find a viable option to deal with oppressive student loan debt, you may still find relief through bankruptcy, debt settlement or other means to pay down or discharge other forms of debt, freeing up income that allows you to make student loan payments without falling into default and damaging your credit. Call the Law Office of Adam R. Weaver, Esq. in Lehighton to discuss your options for dealing with student loan debt and your overall debt load.