First Come, First Served
If you thought you were out of luck to qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program because you were enrolled in graduated or extended repayment plans — Congress recently did you a favor.
Improving consumer protections for federal and private student loans to help ease student loan debt is the aim of an amendment to the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act introduced March 8 by Illinois Senator Dick Durbin. It includes a Student Loan Borrower Bill of Rights as well as some bankruptcy protections.
The National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys (NACBA) has learned from a number of its members that the Department of Education (DOE) and its student loan servicers are kicking out bankruptcy debtors from their income-driven repayment plans. This is happening when debtors file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 — even if they are current on their student loan repayments.
If you have defaulted on your federal student loan — you are not alone. According to a September 2017 article in the Washington Post, “the share of people not making payments on their federal student loans within three years of leaving college has risen, reversing five years of reported declines in new defaults.”
The shift is subtle — up to 11.5 percent from 11.3 percent from 2015 to 2016 — but the raw numbers show what a significant issue this is. Of the more than 5 million people who began repaying their student loans in October 2013, 580,671 defaulted.
Student loan Debt has become a crisis in the United States, with many young professionals turning to bankruptcy lawyers seeking relief for crushing Student Loan Obligations. The total outstanding Student Loan Debt has ballooned to over $1.3 trillion, and is only going to get worse.
Last week the U.S. Department of Education announced their latest move to assist some individuals with financially debilitating student loan debt. This part of the Obama Student Aid Bill of Rights, is directed at hundreds of thousands of borrowers who are permanently disabled and cannot work. The Department of Education started sending out letters this week to student loan borrowers that have been identified, with the help of the Social Security Administration, as receiving disability payments and are eligible to have their student loans discharged. This type of student loan relief is known as a “Total and Permanent Disability” loan discharge. There were 387,000 permanently disabled individuals identified, with nearly half of these currently in student loan default, as qualifying with an estimated $7.7 billion in student loans.
The U.S. Department of Education announced, on March 25, 2016, that evidence uncovered in its ongoing investigation of Corinthian Colleges, Inc. indicates that students were defrauded at 91 former Corinthian campuses nationwide and that those students have a clear path to student loan forgiveness. Students in more than 20 states who attended Corinthian's Everest or Wyo Tech schools, now represent the largest group of borrowers eligible for loan relief as a result of the Department of Education's investigation into Corinthian.
On January 27, 2016 the Federal Trade Commission filed a lawsuit against DeVry University alleging the for-profit school deceived prospective students by exaggerating post-graduation job prospects. This constitutes a violation of the FTC Act and the complaint asks the court to provide redress to consumers and prohibit DeVry from further violations. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Education (DE) has taken separate action to require DeVry to stop deceptive advertising claims regarding its graduates’ employment success and to implement procedures to insure the truthfulness of post-graduation employment claims. These enforcement actions may open the doors for DeVry graduates to request student loan debt relief.
Marinello Schools of Beauty operates 56 cosmetology schools across five states, including two locations here in San Diego (Miramar and El Cajon). On February 4, 2016 Marinello suddenly shut down all of its locations leaving 4,300 students unable to continue their education and 800 employees out of work.
The sudden shut down came after the US Department of Education denied recertification of Marinello’s eligibility to participate in federal student aid programs. According to the Department of Education website, Marinello was notified on February 1, 2016 that its participation would end effective February 29, 2016. Three days after Marinello received this notification, it shut down all locations.
The recent focus from the Presidential candidates on the economy and the future of student loans has caused me to look at the connection between a rate hike in the Federal Interest Rate the future of student loans, both Private and Federal.
When we speak of student loan debt, we really have to talk in terms of long term debt. With the national average of student loan burden of current graduates exceeding $30,000.00, addressing that debt load and arriving at a manageable student loan debt resolution option will take a long time. Therefore, the effects of any rate increase, even if it is incremental, will have a huge long term negative impact on addressing the repayment of student loans. According to the Wall Street Journal, 97% of experts predict an increase over the next year.
An important factor that sets student loan debt apart from all other kinds of debt is that it’s just about impossible to rid yourself of it. Even borrowers that end up in such financial burdens file for bankruptcy and struggle to get a fresh start void of their student loan debt.
But a few cases working their way through the legal system could alter that. They increase the possibility that the courts might offer a loose definition of how difficult the borrower’s financial situation is before a bankruptcy judge can justify discharging his or her loans.
It’s not just young people struggling to pay back student loan debt but more and more retirees are struggling due to this student loan debt burden. An estimated 700,000 seniors on Social Security are still paying off student loans. Recently nearly 160,000 of these retirees have had their disability and retirement payments garnished to pay down student loan debt.
If you are in debt up to your eyeballs, you look to the bankruptcy laws to assist you in digging out from underneath the weight of debt and begin over.
That, after all, is what the law's designed to accomplish – provide you with another possibility to place yourself in a better financial place.
On Wednesday, University of Phoenix's parent Apollo Education Group announced that the business and marketing methods of the for-profit school are now under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). CNNMoney.com reports that Apollo will "cooperate fully" with the FTC research, which requires them to provide the federal company with papers on their finances, advertising, certification, and army recruitment practices from the last four years.