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https://www.tampabankruptcylawyerblog.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2015/07/christie_d._arkovich_p.a_1_small.jpgAre you being sued by NCSLT as many of our clients are?

You should be aware that the CFPB just entered an Order requiring NCSLT to halt collections per the NYT.  The Consent Order is effective immediately although the Judgment itself still needs to be approved and signed by the Delaware Judge.

This “halting of collections” is most assuredly temporary.  The trusts “must suspend all further collection efforts until a compliance plan has been approved and implemented.”  It’s unknown how long that may take.

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https://www.tampabankruptcylawyerblog.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2015/07/christie_d._arkovich_p.a_1_small.jpgFirst, don’t give up.  You may have numerous defenses available – we are a law firm that helps student loan borrowers.

Don’t let them get a default judgment against you where they can garnish 25% of wages and seize your bank accounts.  Over 90% of these cases go to default judgment.  Judgments last 20 years.  They are normally bankruptcy proof.  This does not need to happen.

There are many ways to defend these cases and we can help!  Some or all of these defenses may be applicable to your case:

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Hurricane Irma has caused an interruption in income for many people in Florida and elsewhere.  This information may be helpful for those who cannot make their mortgage or student loan payment when due:

For those in a rehab agreement on federal student loans to avoid wage garnishment:

Payments to Rehabilitate Defaulted Loans (§674.39).  During the time a borrower is affected by a disaster, an institution should not treat any scheduled payment the borrower fails to make as a missed payment in the stream of nine on-time, consecutive, monthly payments required for the borrower to rehabilitate the defaulted loan.  When the borrower is no longer affected by the disaster, the required sequence of qualifying payments may resume at the point at which it was discontinued.

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bankrupty-7Property owned by a husband and wife is ordinarily protected in Florida from creditors of only one spouse.  There are requirements to being able to use what is called the Tenancy by Entireties Exemption such as the property must have been acquired at the same time etc.

One question that was recently addressed by a bankruptcy court dealt with what happens if a debtor has exempted real or personal property in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and his or her spouse dies during the bankruptcy.  Is the exemption then lost?

The Chapter 7 debtor’s right under Code § 522(b)(3)(B) to exempt real property owned in a tenancy by the entireties with the debtor’s non-filing spouse was not extinguished by the postpetition death of the spouse. The rights of sole creditors against property held by the debtor as a tenant by the entireties are fixed as of the petition date, and the Bankruptcy Code does not provide for those rights to expand or contract upon the postpetition death of the non-filing spouse.

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Debtors are presently denied the opportunity to participate in income driven plans in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy in most of Florida.  Instead of allowing for an income based plan, the federal government places these loans in forbearance for the typical five year plan.  Do you know what happens to a federal student loan in forbearance for five years?  It balloons from 100k to 150k.  How does that help to provide a fresh start?

We are attacking this unfairness now in a case we are spearheading in Tampa, Florida.  Our client is being denied participation in IBR and Public Service Loan Forgiveness by the DOE’s policy.  The time is ripe for our Tampa Judges to address this.  While we undertake this challenge, the model plan which does not address this problem is up for revisions and there is comment period which expires August 31.

If you want to help us in our battle for student loan relief, please take 30 seconds to post a comment here before 8/31: http://pacer.flmb.uscourts.gov/localrules/comments-with-form.asp.  Just say something like it is unfair for debtors to be disallowed from participating in governmental income based/debt forgiveness plans just because they file bankruptcy.

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A national web based publication, The Dollar Stretcher.com, picked up our article “Could Student Loan Debt Derail Your Retirement“.  We focused on sharing ways to avoid default and reducing student loan payments for Parent Plus loans.  It’s a problem and one that is only recently getting attention.  Too many parents are faced with paying the student loan debt that they incurred for their children — that they expected their children to pay once they obtained good jobs.  Or the parent may have always intended to pay the debt to send their children to college, but they have lost their own jobs and are unable to pay as intended.  Most people who lost their jobs during 2008-2012 who have been fortunate enough to obtain replacement employment are facing a lack of savings and usually lower wages than enjoyed previously.

Just know there are options out there.  Options that your servicer (Navient, Great Lakes, FedLoans, NelNet) may not be sharing with you.  Consult with a student loan attorney to make sure you are taking advantage of all available options to reduce and even eliminate student loan debt.  See our Student Loan Survival Center for more info or check out our free e-book “How To Take Your Life Back From Your Student Loans“.

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stop-debt-harassmentThere are limits as to when a student loan servicer can contact someone other than the borrower.  They cannot call the borrower’s place of employment if the borrower asks them not to.  They cannot robocall the borrower’s cell phone when the borrower asks them not to.  They cannot discuss the debt with a third party.  They cannot contact the debtor when the debtor has retained legal counsel.  These are all very clear rules proscribed by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) and its Florida counterpart, the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act (“FCCPA”) or the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”).

One quirk that I’d like to see how widespread it is, involves student loan servicer contacts with the debtor’s family members after the debtor has retained counsel.  In this particular instance, the contact involves asking for contact info for the debtor as well as their employment info.  At that time, the student loan servicer knows how to reach the debtor.  They know all contact regarding the debt is to go through legal counsel.  So why contact a reference or family member pretending they don’t know how to reach the debtor.  And ask for employment information from this relative.

There are two sub-sections of the FCCPA in play on this question:

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Are you a teacher?  A police officer?  A fire-fighter?  Work in any capacity for local, state or federal government or a non-profit?

Having doubts about whether your federal student loans are going to be forgiven after ten years of public service?  Join the club.  Here are five things you should know to make sure your loans are indeed forgiven after 10 years:

  • Make sure your loans are Direct Loans and not the older FFEL loans.
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Garin Flowers of Channel 10 ran this story this week with a married couple we have represented with Parent Plus loans.  These loans had doubled before they came and consulted with us for repayment options.  When the financial crisis hit in 2008, they were forced to go on forbearance for a number of years and the loan went from 47k to 84k.  When Parent Plus loans are taken out, the parents’ income and number of income producing years before retirement are not even taken into account.  Unlike a student with a lifetime of earnings ahead of him or her, parents may have only ten years to retirement – even if there wasn’t a financial crisis causing massive job losses during that time period.

Older Americans have nearly 70 billion of Parent Plus loans as of 2015 according to a January CFPB Report:  Snapshot of Older Consumers and Student Loan Debt.  The CFPB receives a large number of servicing and debt collection complaints by older Americans.

Nearly 40% of federal student loan borrowers over the age of 65 are in default according to the CFPB Report.  Default brings a whole set of nasty outcomes including wage garnishment, social security offsets and tax refund interception, as well as negative credit ratings.  Often a student loan attorney can help to prevent a default or cure a default that has already occurred.  We have found there are solutions, and often the servicers do not discuss all of the available options with borrowers.  They tend to emphasize forbearance – which is a temporary bandaid at best.  The loan balance just continues to increase – and capitalized interest adds up quickly.

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https://www.tampabankruptcylawyerblog.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2015/07/christie_d._arkovich_p.a_1_small.jpgWe’ve been spending quite of bit of time lately researching all the ins and outs of Public Service Loan Forgiveness (“PSLF”).  One of the issues that has caught our attention is the failure to communicate to FFEL borrowers the need to consolidate their loans to the newer Direct loans and THEREAFTER make 120 timely monthly payments.  Many people have never been informed of this requirement to consolidate to Direct Loans, and have wasted many years of their life making payments that do not count toward PSLF.  Many are finding this out now.  After they’ve already worked in public service for years.

I’d like to hear from student loan borrowers about how they heard of the need to consolidate to Direct for PSLF eligibility, and when they learned of this.  There appears to be a gap – the FINAL RULE implemented by the DOE on July 1, 2009 lays out a counseling requirement where this is to be discussed with students during an exit interview with the school.  But what about the ones who already graduated?  It wasn’t added to the Master FFEL Promissory Note until late 2009/early 2010.  So any borrower who graduated prior to mid 2009 would not have known of this requirement from the school, nor from the note they signed.  The PSLF was passed into law by the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 by President Bush to provide indebted professionals a way out of their federal student loans by working full-time in public service.  In 2007, many banks loaned money to borrowers under the FFEL program which provided for a federal guarantee in the event of default.  Three quarters of schools provided access to FFEL loans, while Direct loans were offered in only one-quarter of schools.  So in 2007, these banks began to inform their borrowers of this new legal path toward forgiveness.  Three quarters of these borrowers had FFEL loans which did not qualify.  At that time there were no forms to fill out, no applications to submit.  Borrowers were given a payment amount and told to make timely payments for 120 months and then apply.  The DOE doesn’t even have a final application ready yet – it is expected in September 2017.

In November 2011, FedLoan Servicing was awarded the contract to service borrowers eligible for PSLF.  But unless a borrower had somehow heard of the certification process to inquire about potential eligibility that began in January 2012, their loans would not have been serviced by FedLoan.  Loan servicing could have been provided by any of the originating banks or their servicers such as Navient, Sallie Mae, Nelnet or Great Lakes.  What steps did any of these parties take to educate their borrowers about the PSLF requirements?  What steps did the DOE take to ensure FFEL borrowers were aware of this limitation other than publication on its website for borrowers prior to the new Master Promissory Note in late 2009/2010?  Did the lenders have a financial incentive not to notify borrowers and thereby reduce their profitable loan portfolio?

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