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eviction-noticeNow that we are starting to see eviction moratoriums end, I thought this was a good time to discuss how a bankruptcy can be used to gain more time if needed especially for higher wage earners that haven’t found employment yet – perhaps technology has displaced their jobs for instance. All the help wanted signs out there are usually for food service, hospitality industry jobs — not necessarily all jobs.

Tenants of single-family homes financed by the federal government are still protected through September 30.   For all others, landlords must still comply with the rules as they existed prior to the pandemic.

There are various government websites which may have emergency rental assistance – at treasury.gov search for “find rental assistance” and select your state and county.  Here is a link as well.

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free-tuitionCNN business recently reported that Walmart has announced that it will provide free tuition for its employees to attend college.  I don’t recognize any of the participating schools below so not sure how much this will impact our Florida clients, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.  Especially since service industries are having a hard time attracting employees right now.  Maybe this will encourage others to do the same – our small law firm started a similar program earlier this year.

Walmart typically starts employees at $11/hour I’ve heard, so this extra benefit may be the tipping point for someone to get ahead in life.  These benefits are likely tax free (not considered as gross income) — provided they are less than $5,250 per year.  Walmart receives the deduction, and neither the employee nor the employer have to pay payroll taxes on this.  Win-win.

Here’s a list of Walmart’s participating partners:

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https://www.tampabankruptcylawyerblog.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2015/07/christie_d._arkovich_p.a_1_small.jpgAnother nail was pounded into the private student loan coffin last week when a new case came out against Sallie Mae.

A private student loan is not a conditional grant and therefore does fall within the meaning of section 523(a)(8)(A)(ii) which excepts from discharge an “educational benefit, scholarship, or stipend.” Homaidan v. Sallie Mae, Inc., No. 20-1981 (2d Cir. July 15, 2021).

So, this puts a duty on us attorneys to determine if the private loan can be discharged whenever a bankruptcy is filed.  Factors to consider:

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Taxes-and-SL-ForgivenessWe’ve received questions about how exactly did the recent stimulus bill affect student loan forgiveness and any resulting taxable event?  Here is the actual text of the change in law below.

As you can see this includes any taxable forgiveness of federal or private student loan debt.

So the time to settle student loans is now, or at least before January 1, 2026.

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FHA-SL-guidelinesAre you looking to buy a house now?  Waiting could cost you as inflationary pressures will likely cause your dollar to decline.  Moreover, interest rates will begin to rise in 2022 – 2023 as the Fed begins to normalize the interest rate.  If you have student loan debt that has prevented you in the past from buying a home, keep reading…

In light of this, mortgages and refinances are a very popular topic now — especially among those with student loan debt.  One big hang up was just resolved.  Previously, a mortgage lender had to use 1% of the outstanding loan balance, even when a borrower was in IDR and the monthly payment reported on the Borrower’s credit report was zero.

We would suggest a temporary fix:  the borrower would exit IDR for a month or two where the payment may have been zero, make a fixed standard or extended payment, apply for the mortgage and after approval, get back into the IDR.  This wasn’t the best fix; however, as it unnecessarily caused a student loan borrower to have the loan capitalize the unpaid interest.  But it did let someone buy a house who otherwise could not.

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Now that the Department of Education (“ED”) is committed to revamping the Borrower Defense to Repayment rules and procedures, I thought it was time to re-visit an old foe.  I was disappointed to find Accrediting Counsel for Independent Colleges and Schools (“ACISC”) was STILL in business.  Despite the sudden closures of ITT Tech and Corinthian Colleges under its watch, it’s still out there, in part due to Secretary DeVos’ leadership of ED and former President Trump reinstating the accreditor in 2018.

This year, career staff at ED have again recommended that ACICS lose its accreditation power because it failed to demonstrate that it has competent and knowledgeable individuals, qualified by education and experience.  For example, when ACICS visited Reagan National University and didn’t locate any instructional material, it didn’t even note the lack of materials as a deficiency in its report.  ED stated that several other red flags were overlooked as well during site visits, USA Today reported in March 2021.

There are two levels of reviews and appeals available to ACISC which they are certain to use if nothing else to run out the clock.

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Fl-Legal-EliteFlorida Trend just came out with its Legal Elite 2021 list on July 1 where we’re proud to be listed as one of the top 10 bankruptcy attorneys in Tampa Bay.  This is not a publication that we pay for a listing — we don’t subscribe to that philosophy.  We also don’t like to throw money away to be on lists.

Something I also don’t tend to harp about, we are proud to have a really good rating by Martindale-Hubbell which is an independent review by and for attorneys.  We have what is called a Preeminent rating which them — there is no higher rating.  Again, we don’t solicit or pay for that rating.

ML-preeminent
We believe in reviews.  I use reviews when I seek out a service or product.  Whatever we have to say about ourselves and our practice can usually be said much better by our clients – and in their own words.  So if you are looking for a bankruptcy attorney, please check out our reviews!  Then give us a call.  Hope we can help.

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ORL-Conf

Presenting three topics today for Southern District Florida bankruptcy attorneys who are interested in taking advantage of their new Student Management Program!   Great program so far, tons of material, practice pointers — anyone who couldn’t attend today, contact Tammy Branson in Orlando to purchase the recording.  I wish something like this existed when I first started student loan work on behalf of borrowers.  Would have made a world of difference, and saved me a lot of time!

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The PPP window has closed four weeks ahead of schedule as it runs out of funds as reported by the ABI.

Restaurant owners should apply quickly for then Restaurant Revitalization Fund which opened this week and is expected to go quickly.  Here’s is a guide with helpful information about how to apply and what types of business requirements are necessary.  First come, first served. Here is another guide about who qualifies that is a very easy read and highly recommended.

Folks have been delaying reorganization type bankruptcies to qualify for various stimulus programs.  You should know that recently the rules have changed to allow stimulus and bankruptcy to co-exist.  In other words, filing for bankruptcy protection will not negate applying for government aid in most cases.

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studentloanplanner
Are you wondering about what to do with your student loan debt?  Student Loan Planner had me on as a guest on their podcast talking about the student loan system in general, how we got here, what to expect from a Biden Administration and how to settle or obtain forgiveness of your student loan debt.

Here is the link to your episode: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/can-you-settle-your-debt/id1446453497?i=1000516901444

Christie Arkovich who has specialized in helping clients get through financial hardships since 1995. Christie was a champion of the student loan system working for Sallie Mae during the early stages of her career but came to realize that the system is broken. We talk about her work for Sallie Mae and why she “switched sides” to help borrowers navigate the many complexities of the student loan industry.

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