While I don’t generally post our client reviews, there are times where I simply can’t help myself. This one in particular shows the difference between having an advocate on your side versus getting your information from the student loan servicer — who by the way represents the creditor only. They do NOT represent the borrower.
Who are all these people? People who want to put an end to the student loan crisis. Most are Bankruptcy Judges from the Middle, Southern and Northern Districts. The rest are us committee members who helped to put in place a new Student Loan Modification Program which goes into effect September 1, 2019 for the Middle District of Florida.
As I like to put it, the idea behind the Student Loan Modification program is to: 1) increase communication between bankruptcy debtors and student loan servicers; 2) increase awareness of various options available to reduce student loan debt; and 3) end the needless forbearance and accrual of yet more debt in bankruptcy by providing easier access and instructions for federal programs as well as mediation opportunities for private student loans.
I have a few trainings scheduled in the near future for other bankruptcy attorneys who have requested this:
A 529 account and/or a Florida Pre-paid account is a no brainer. A 529 account is NEVER taxed. As long as you use the money for educational expenses, the gains from bond interest, stock dividends and stock appreciation is never taxed. You can easily set up an account through Vanguard or Fidelity. The 2019 changes for maximum contributions are located at the Vanguard link.
The definition of educational purposes is fairly broad and includes room and board, fees, books, supplies, equipment, computer hardware and software, and internet access and related services.
Also, parents can now use a 529 for private K-12.
For anyone who has an interest in Public Service Loan Forgiveness, or other forgiveness programs for federal student loans, we were interviewed by attorney Kenneth Landau on his radio show that will be broadcast at 3:00 p.m. today and available as a podcast thereafter at www.NCCradio.org.
Rogers v. Rogers, 12 So.3d 288 stands for the general proposition that student loan debt incurred during the marriage is a marital liability. See, e.g. Smith, 934 So.2d 636, at 641; Adams v. Cook, 969 So.2d 1185, 1187 (Fla. 5th DCA 2007); Banton v. Parker-Banton, 756 So.2d 155, 156 (Fla. 4th DCA 2000); see also Section 61.075(5)(a)(1). Thus, in the absence of specific findings supporting the unequal distribution of a student loan debt, such debt must be equitably distributed between the parties. See Smith, 934 So.2d at 641; Adams, 969 So.2d at 1187.
The fact that one party will not receive any benefit from the other party’s education because of the dissolution is NOT a factor to be considered when allocating a marital debt for student loans. See Smith, 934 So.2d at 641; Adams, 969 So.2d at 1187. Thus, absent some other justification for an unequal distribution, controlling case law forbids a trial court from awarding student loan debt incurred during the marriage solely to one party or the other.
If the loans were taken out before the marriage, then they would be non-marital debt.
In the Seventh Circuit, which includes Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin – the answer is “YES” in a ground breaking ruling against Great Lakes this week. Servicers must tell the truth when a student loan borrower asks questions about their options to repay student loans. Servicers who steer borrowers into plans that benefit lenders,forcing borrowers struggling to keep up with their loans, can be held liable. Halleluja!! (yes, I had to look up how to spell that 🙂
In Florida, we still don’t know. We have a pending class action on appeal with our co-counsel against the very same defendant, Great Lakes, making the same arguments in the context of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.
This borrower, Nicole Nelson, says she was never informed about income-based repayment plans, which federal law requires loan servicers to offer. Income-based plans set monthly loan payments as a percentage of a borrower’s discretionary income, but, according to Nelson, these plans are less lucrative for lenders and the enrollment process is time-consuming for the loan servicer. Instead, the servicer pushed forbearance. We tell clients that forbearances are the drug of choice for servicers because it is easy to grant, and runs the loan balance up. Forbearances do have their place, but they should be considered as a bandaid for a temporary reprieve, not a long-term solution.
Yes, it’s a holiday weekend and I’m not quite sure why a local consumer group JEDTI is doing their 2nd Annual Convention today, but it is about a 100 degrees out and I think I’d melt outdoors anyway so why not?
JEDTI was originally made up of mostly foreclosure defense attorneys, and this is how I came to be a part of the group several years back. It was amazing the knowledge this group imparted and I am forever grateful to be a member.
Now that the foreclosure crisis is for the most part behind us, JEDTI has morphed into other consumer protection areas including robocalls under the TCPA, fair debt collection violations, credit repair and reporting violations under the FCRA — and now perhaps student loans if they like what I have to say.
Fox 13 interviewed us in connection with their terrific story yesterday on the College Scorecard: College Scorecard a Wealth of Information on Every College and University in the Country. Anyone with a high school student or someone bound for college, should look into this resource to help make the decision about which college to attend.
It offers a wealth of information on topics on which a school may not be forthcoming.
“I like the fact that it shows some things that a school probably wouldn’t want to put a spotlight on, like graduation and retention rates.” Arkovich told FOX 13.
Today, we appeared on ParentPumpRadio as a guest discussing Breaking the Stigma of High Student Debt.
Different topics were discussed such as the old view vs the new view on picking colleges, paying for school, choosing loans etc. If you are a parent or student thinking about college, be sure to listen before making key decisions that could affect you for the rest of your lives.
- How to avoid high student loan debt when attending school
This week 60 Minutes aired a student loan story about a Home Depot founder who donated hundreds of millions and raised additional funds to make NYU’s medical school tuition free. While this was a great story, and a compassionate thing to do to ensure that the lower paid physician fields such as general practice and internal medicine draw new doctors in today’s world where it costs several hundred thousand for medical school, still the impact is minimal if you look at the landscape of 1.5 trillion dollars of student loan debt out there.
A better overview of the enormity of the student loan debt bubble, how we got here, and possible solutions, check out the student loan story on the Patriot Act by Hasan Minhaj, airing on Netflix.
A clip with me about Navient appears 8 minutes in, another of our Florida client’s news story about losing her medical LPN license when in default on her federal loans was quickly on in the beginning, and another client spoke of his denial of PSLF, and our class action against Navient for misleading people into believing they qualify for PSLF is 16 minutes in. It’s only a ½ hour show – talks about the recent IG audit too: 61% of the time when dealing with your student loans, the federal student loan servicers screw up. The story focuses on the fact that the Department of Ed is the biggest lender out there, isn’t prepared to be, and how horrible of a job the servicers do and that student loan debt is now more than vehicle and credit card debt combined etc. Here’s a link on YouTube – it’s well worth the watch: