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https://www.tampabankruptcylawyerblog.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2015/07/christie_d._arkovich_p.a_1_small.jpgHow do you determine if the COVID-19 federal law waiving interest applies to your federal student loans?  The most recent changes are summarized here in a nice Q&A format:  https://studentaid.gov/announcements-events/coronavirus.

My take on all this:  The Act suspends student loan payments and interest accrual through September 30. For those in federal loan forgiveness programs, those months will count as months in which payments were made.

Now for the finer points:  for the interest waiver, not all federal loans count, only Direct Loans and those Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL) which are owned by the government.  Most FFEL loans are owned by third parties and only guaranteed by the government.  Perkins Loans are owned by the institution and the interest waiver does not apply either.  Eighty percent of all federal loans were FFEL loans before the FFEL program was discontinued in 2010.  I’d estimate one-quarter to one half of all federal loans are still FFEL loans.

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closed-but-awesome
While our physical location is closed, our Arkovich Law team are hard at work at home filing motions to abate Chapter 13 Plans, Modifying Confirmed Plans, helping with our clients’ real estate needs, settling all sorts of debt, and assisting with estate planning needs.  This blog is addressed toward our small businesses in the Tampa Bay area:

If you are a small business owner, make sure to apply for the Paycheck Protection Program through your local bank in order to maintain your workforce and to receive full forgiveness after the 8 week period.  Make sure you are able to return to work in 8 weeks with your business fully intact and awesome!

Also, if you experience additional business hardship, you can apply for a SBA Bridge Loan.

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For you landlords out there or for your residential property managers, what about this idea for your tenants who are unable to pay rent?

It allows a 50% reduction in rent to be paid by using escrowed deposits for two months, replenishment within 180 days, and extends the lease for two months.  Those deposit accounts are sitting around doing nothing, we may as well be using them!!  Tenant pays nothing now, and landlord gets 50% now.

If you like this idea, please share (but add my email in case a landlord or property manager would like legal advice on how to handle a specific matter).  Christie@christiearkovich.com.

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grocery-cart-emptyMy first consult this week was for a former client who just learned of a bank garnishment of his joint bank account with his wife from an old Cach final judgment that he thought was vacated and dismissed.  The entire account was frozen.  Plus his wife’s next check couldn’t be stopped from being deposited and taken.

How did he learn of this?  When he was at the grocery store to buy food for his family in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis.  After carefully avoiding everyone and loading his cart with what he could find – he walked away with nothing.  He didn’t have money to pay us, but since we had been compassionate to him in the past, he thought, why not contact us, perhaps there is something we could do.

Fortunately, we were able to secure with the opposing attorney, a dissolution of the writ of garnishment and all the money in his joint bank account will be released in just a day or two.  In the meantime, our client has borrowed some funds from a neighbor.  This could happen to anyone — this client had no idea that this old judgment was out there, and that bank account was his emergency fund.  He lost his job in Europe and had no credit cards.  His wife works at a local Tampa Bay retailer and just had her hours cut.  I sincerely appreciate opposing counsel who timely communicated with me in this urgent matter to get it resolved now and without the necessity of a court hearing, which could take a few weeks!

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https://www.tampabankruptcylawyerblog.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2015/07/christie_d._arkovich_p.a_1_small.jpgWe’ve gathered some information below for folks with student related questions if their job/business/income has been impacted by the CoronaVirus/COVID-19:

Here some info below on servicers and US Dept of ED current updates:

  • Nelnet; currently open “attempting to keep call centers staffed, however use online options”  Offers: Deferment, forbearance
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Ugly-truth-about-debt-relief-companiesI just found an eye opening video by Gary Fraley, a certified bankruptcy attorney in California, on why debt relief companies should be avoided!

Watch the video – it’s short, to the point, and there’s a cool saddle in the back ground — looks like a former Texas transplant to California.  I kept looking for a cowboy hat, but that’s probably in his Ford truck hung on the rifle rack.  Okay, I may have been watching too many Ranches on Netflix lately!

www.youtube.com/watch?v=DP1BVHdsexc

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https://www.tampabankruptcylawyerblog.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2015/07/christie_d._arkovich_p.a_1_small.jpgLawyers often spend too much time focused on whether a debtor meets the Brunner test for undue hardship that they miss major opportunities to reduce and eliminate federal and private student loan debt.  Many people are in forbearance for years while their loan balances continue to grow.  Taking advantage of Income Driven Plans in bankruptcy by using the Buchanan language and the new Student Loan Management Program in the Middle District of Florida can save tens of thousands of dollars.

How else can a student loan attorney help?  By ensuring borrowers are placed in the correct IDR plans which can often save hundreds per month and allow for full forgiveness.  Helping borrowers to understand and minimize the tax consequences.  Curing defaults to stop wage garnishment, social security offset and tax intercepts.  Helping borrowers ensure they are properly enrolled in Public Service Loan Forgiveness – to avoid being one of the 99.5% who are being denied this relief.

Private non-qualified, non-school certified, loans are subject to discharge.  Recent case law permits the discharge of private loans to attend ineligible schools, Bar Study or Tuition Answer loans or for debt incurred beyond the cost of the education.  Cases such as In re Kashikar, In re Campbell, In re Dufrane, In re Wiley, In re Essangui and In re Decena are paving the way to creating Florida precedent for discharge such as in In re Lysiuk and In re Lytkina a/k/a Mulligan.  We help consumers to take control of their student loans and create a plan for a reduced amount of debt, and an affordable payment with an end in sight.  Settlements outside of bankruptcy are also possible, although this will cause a taxable event for the forgiveness (which does not occur in a bankruptcy).

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Some of you probably already realize this, but all the old Roadrunner accounts (tampabay.rr.com) are being discontinued by Spectrum.  It’s odd because some emails are coming through, but replies back and other emails are not.  However, bounce backs are not being sent either.  Our main email used to be cdalaw@tampabay.rr.com.  We’ve switched to christie@christiearkovich several years ago, but the old one is still out there.  If you are trying to reach us, please use the new email.  Our intake email for potential clients is on our website:  sandra@christiearkovich.com.

You may also have friends with the old roadunner address who aren’t responding to you — reach out to them by phone, they may not know of the problem yet!

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credit-report-wrongThe FCRA requires that “[w]henever a consumer reporting agency prepares a consumer report it shall follow reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy of the information concerning the individual about whom the report relates.” 15 U.S.C. Section 1681e(b).

That’s a high burden “maximum possible accuracy”!  And it is not being met.  In one over the top case of ours, despite a client providing proof of life, she was reported as deceased by her student loan servicer over and over again wrecking havoc on her credit report.

More typically we run into instances where student loans are incorrectly reported as being in default when in fact they are no longer owed due to a settlement or discharge in bankruptcy.  This in fact is becoming our bread and butter raising these types of claims.

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bk-and-small-busFiling bankruptcy for small businesses just got a whole lot easier!  The Small Business Reorganization Act of 2019 takes effect on February 19, 2020.  Some of the new features are that it adds a new subchapter V to Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code which is good for small business bankruptcies because:

  • There are no quarterly trustee fees;
  • There is no absolute priority rule;
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