Being buried in student loan debt isn’t fun. But there are times when your student loan debt is more than just a burden — it’s a nightmare. If your student loan situation has reached a critical level, you may want to consider seeking out a student loan lawyer.
Working with student loan lawyers can be a serious next step. The following guide will help break down how they can help and illustrate when is the right time to hire a student loan lawyer.
What is a student loan lawyer?
First, you may be wondering what a student loan lawyer even is.
“A student loan lawyer is a lawyer with advance knowledge of student loans,” says Joshua Cohen from TheStudentLoanLawyer.com. “Not a guy who says, ‘You can’t do anything about student loans’.”
A student loan lawyer can help you navigate the complicated world of student loans and shed light on some tricky situations.
“They understand the ins and outs of both federal and private student loans, all the differences,”adds Cohen. “The way to maneuver through the federal system, getting folks out of default and onto affordable repayment plans, and how to use the law with or without lawsuit to make the system work for the borrower.”
How can a student loan lawyer help you?
Before hiring a student loan lawyer, it’s important to know how they can help you. Not everyone needs the assistance of a student loan lawyer. But given the right situation, it could be a good investment.
According to Adam S. Minsky of BostonStudentLoanLawyer.com, a student loan lawyer can help you in the following ways:
- Provide legal advice and guidance regarding your legal rights and options
- Represent your interests in communications or negotiations with a student loan holder, student loan servicer, debt collection agency, or administrative body
- Help you resolve delinquencies or defaults, or to apply for a discharge
- Protect you from unfair or abusive conduct by debt collectors and other agencies
- Handle credit disputes
- Litigate student loan-related matters, such as by defending a collections lawsuit against you, or suing schools or loan-related agencies for legal violations
As you can see these situations are more than just I hate my loan servicer and don’t know what to do about it.
Student loan lawyers can help you with the nuances of private student loans, too.
“A lawyer should always be consulted when dealing with private loans as those are subject to state law,” says Cohen. “What works in one state may not work in another. Only a licensed attorney in that particular state will know what can and can’t work.”
Private student loans don’t have the same flexible repayment options as federal student loans. Additionally, private student loan borrowers have faced various issues in recent years, ranging from auto-defaults to difficulties releasing co-signers.
Should you hire a student loan lawyer?
Now that you have a better idea of how a student loan lawyer can help, should you hire one? Is it the right time?
“Every person is different, and every situation is different – whether someone should contact a student loan lawyer really depends on your specific circumstances,” says Minsky.
In reality, you may or may not need a student loan lawyer.
“There are really very few matters that inherently requires you to hire an attorney – even filing for bankruptcy or defending against a collections lawsuit can be done ‘pro se,’ meaning without legal representation,” Minsky explains.
While you may not need a student loan lawyer, hiring one can be immensely useful if you need some assistance navigating your specific situation. Student loan lawyers can share their expertise and offer solutions — solutions that you might be able to figure out on your own, but with extensive research and a ton of time.
Although Minsky believes not everyone needs to hire a student loan lawyer, he admits that “Having an attorney representing you can be enormously helpful if you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’re not sure of your legal options, you’ve been sued, or you’re dealing with a complex legal issue.”
In other words, student loan lawyers can take a complex situation and simplify it for you. They can then offer you actionable steps and solutions to move forward when you feel stuck or hopeless.
What are your options?
If you’re struggling with your student loans, you may wonder how you can even afford a student loan lawyer.
“Most times, a lawyer is cheaper than the alternative, such as a wage garnishment,” says Cohen. “Many attorneys, including myself, can find ways to finance a borrower.”
You may think hiring a student loan lawyer is out of reach, but it’s important to do a cost-benefit analysis. How much are you paying in fees, interest, etc. in your current situation? What will you pay for a student loan lawyer who can help you get out of that situation?
“I also find most attorneys are cheaper than the consolidation companies, while offering far better service and options,” adds Cohen.
If you truly cannot afford to hire a student loan lawyer, there are other options you can pursue.
“People can get free information on student loans from various sources,” says Minsky. “For example, the National Consumer Law Center has some great student loan information on their website.”
Minsky also recommends that low-income borrowers check out their local legal services branch to see if they offer assistance.
Student loan lawyers can help you if you find yourself in a difficult situation that you can’t get out of on your own. If you’re deep in the trenches and dealing with default, bankruptcy, etc. you might want to consider hiring a student loan lawyer.
Before hiring a student loan lawyer, talk to your loan servicer about your options. After exhausting your options, you may need additional help and student loan lawyers can use their expertise to support you on your repayment journey.
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