Yesterday I was back for a full day after being sick with the flu for a few days. The day was surprisingly productive. Many people have asked me what we can do for people with student loans. This question is often combined with a statement that they thought nothing could be done.
To the contrary, here are the results for our Tampa Bay clients just yesterday. First I received an email from a client who thanked our law firm for greatly improving the quality of his life. You see when this client initially contacted us six months ago he owed over six figures in private student loans and could see no end in sight – he was in his late 50s. The student loan companies were always asking him to make payments for more than he could afford. He was single, healthy and able to work making 40k a year. Despite this, we put him in a bankruptcy and filed an adversary proceeding asserting that he was due a partial discharge due to the non-affordability of the private student loans among other things. Within a few months, we had negotiated settlements with both servicers of his student loans which included substantial principal (50% or greater) and interest rate reductions (to 0-2%) and an affordable monthly payment plan.
Another client returned a signed rehab agreement to us today where she accepted the $10 a month payment plan we had negotiated for her to bring her federal loans current and remove the default on her credit report. She had narrowly avoided garnishment by hiring us just in time. When her rehab is done, we’ll put her into a specific income based debt forgiveness plan that takes into account her loan types, marital status and type of employment for the best result.
When we opened the snail mail for the day, we found that a third client received her administrative discharge of her federal student loans. This lady came to us barely able to walk and was clearly unable to work. After obtaining the proper certifications from her doctors, we submitted her application to the DOE and it was approved in exactly 60 days. If this client hadn’t hired us, I could easily envision her tax refunds being intercepted and her social security garnished down the road.
In the afternoon, I put the finishing touches on a TCPA lawsuit alleging that a student loan company improperly continued to contact my client after he asked them not to call him on his cell phone any longer. This particular student loan company also repeatedly contacted my client looking for some unknown person (and continued to call even after he told them it was a wrong number). Eventually after this case is filed, we hope to use these debt collection violations as leverage to reduce the amount owed perhaps to zero.
And to wrap up the day, we finalized a settlement for a fifth client who had $126,000 in private student loans for a lump sum payment of $34,000 which is 27% of the debt. This settlement was obtained in 2 weeks despite this flu that I’m finally getting a handle on.
Our work for each of these clients was very different, but they all achieved the same goal: making an unaffordable student loan manageable and structured to fit within their unique circumstances. Could these clients have reached the same results without retaining our services? I doubt it. Most people give up after a few phone calls to the student loan companies, don’t know which company to contact for what, apply for the wrong program, are unaware of the settlement parameters and tools we use, and have no idea of how to go about most of this.