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Join us tomorrow at noon EST/ 11:00 CST for a Facetime Interview between Jamie (Miller and Miller in Wisconsin) and Christie (Christie D. Arkovich, P.A. in Florida) as we discuss why NO ONE should feel compelled to return to work right now, just to be able to pay their student loans.

There are new avenues to say “Goodbye” to both federal and private student loans in many situations!  Things that everyday people and even your average bankruptcy attorney have no idea about!  NONE of these things we are doing for clients right now involve a future Act of Congress.  None.

“A lot of people, even some of the lawyers who represent consumers, thought for years that you really shouldn’t even try because there’s not a chance you’ll win, but I think everyone is looking at it now with sort of a fresh look,” says John Rao, an attorney with the National Consumer Law Center.

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Are you tired of endlessly paying on your student loans, only to see no headway at all being made?

I wrote this article for our local Cramdown publication for Tampa Bay attorney advocates and bankruptcy attorneys – these are tips that everyone should know about and ask their advocate for assistance with.  Don’t rely only on your servicer in other words.  Contact us if you’d like to know more about this.  These tips are designed to SAVE YOU MONEY and instead COST THEM MONEY.  This is kinda long, but the best tips are near the end, so please keep reading, it’ll be the best thing you’ll read all year if you have student loan debt!

The CARES Act signed into law on March 27, 2020 (the “Act”), provided for forbearance and interest waiver for all Direct Loans that are owned by the federal government.  Older Federal Family Education Loans (“FFEL”) were not protected by the Act, but the Department of Education encouraged servicers of these federal loans to take similar actions to relieve borrowers of the need to make payments during the pandemic.  Those with Perkins loans or private loans also were not protected from interest accrual or the need to make payments and this resulted in a patchwork of forbearances and other temporary payment relief.

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SSA-overpaymentThe Social Security Administration (“SSA”) assesses overpayments in any instance where it thinks it may have overpaid benefits.  This most commonly occurs when a recipient doesn’t timely report a change in circumstances, such as income.

In many cases, the overpayment may be caused by the SSA itself, when it fails to update its records after receipt of a change in circumstances.  Or the SSA may deposit benefits into someone else with a similar name.  There is no way for beneficiaries to independently verify whether they are receiving the correct amount of benefits every month and instead they must rely on the SSA’s calculations.

Overpayments can be made over a lot of years – even 20-30 years.  Frequently, a mistake is caught and a handful of years have gone by, and the money has long been spent, usually on reasonable and necessary living expenses.

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POAWhen creating a Power of Attorney, a lot of people simply download a form off the Internet, or use an old family form that may have been created decades ago.  Simple things can make a world of difference.

I spoke with a health care professional awhile back and she emphasized that the inability of someone to take a company to court for billing disputes, mismanagement of care, and financial oversight disputes was disturbing as there was little to no recourse for a family member to raise these issues.

Wait, what?

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Did you know that simply having a mix of accounts is 10% of your overall credit score?!

A mix of accounts can show that you know how to manage all types of credit.  It is good to have a history of repaying an installment loan, such as a car or student loan, but a revolving account, such as a credit card, demonstrates more clearly that you can responsibly manage credit because you have to control how much you charge and pay each month.

It’s easy to ask a creditor to increase your credit line on an account as well – this way the unused balance will be larger which also helps.

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debt-collection-dos-and-dontsNow that debt collectors are back and moratoriums are falling away, this is a good opportunity to remind Florida consumers about limitations that bind debt collectors.  Basically, things they may do or say that could get them into trouble, and give you recourse to sue or settle or more favorable terms.  So what do we look for?

  • Misleading letters regarding payment options, statute of limitations, or credit reporting.
  • Letters lacking required disclosures or misleading about dispute process.
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Due to heavy demand, the CPAAcadmy is doing a video rebroadcast today at 10:00 of a Webinar course I did for them last month for those who help others try to reduce or get rid of student loan debt.

I also have a link to this on my website available anytime (audio only unfortunately).

So if you have an hour, your might want to tune it at 10:00 for the rebroadcast today!

 

 

 

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CPAacademy-logoWrapping up another busy week with student loan discharges in bankruptcy and forgiveness under the disability program.  Hosted an excellent presentation for Tampa Bay Bankruptcy Bar Association attorneys on the new procedures for small business reorganizations by Amy Denton Harris, a shareholder with Stichter, Riedel, Blain & Postler, P.A. and Guy Van Baalen, an Assistant U.S. Trustee with the Tampa U.S. Trustee’s office.

The highlight of the week was a webinar presentation I did for CPAacademy titled “Helping Your Clients Take Their Lives Back From Their Student Loans“.  I’d like to thank the 580 people who signed up even during the busy tax season with extensions expiring in just a few days.

I just have to share a few of the testimonials (all five stars except one four star who would have liked to seen a bit longer presentation!) to encourage you to watch and learn (or reach out to us to finally do something about your student loan debt):

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I’m usually reluctant to talk much about pending bills recently introduced because so much can happen before a bill becomes a law.  Remember that cartoon with the little bill walking from place to place?  Wow, that dates me a bit.

But odds are something along these lines will get passed this year in part as COVID 19 relief:  Student Borrower Bankruptcy Relief Act of 2019 and Protecting Homeowners in Bankruptcy Act of 2020  – the bill markups are found here.

If you have private student loans, we don’t need to wait for Congress.  We frequently can discharge those private, high interest loans right now.  If you’ve filed a bankruptcy if the past, we can reopen your case (as long as the bankruptcy pre-dates the loans themselves) and wipe the deck clear of many, if not most, private student loans.

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