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cnn-moneyCNN Money recently featured two of our clients, Amanda Lawson-Ross and Bill Cottrill, in a story Student Loan Nightmare:  ‘I have to start all over’.  These two clients filed Complaints seeking class action status.

One observation in the story:  “They make it incredibly difficult to take advantage of [PSLF]; you have to jump through so many hoops just to qualify.”  My advice:  don’t rely on your servicer (Great Lakes, Navient, FedLoan, Nelnet, AES etc.) with $11/hour employees who are likely paid incentives to reduce call duration and work for the creditor for correct information.  Seek Help Now!

A report was issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau over the summer that spotlights the lack of accurate information borrowers are receiving about the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program even after identifying themselves as a public worker.

Published on: of our student loan attorney colleagues, Austin Smith, is the guiding force behind a class action filed in Texas that is pending:  In re: Evan Brian Haas and Michael Shahbazi v. Navient Solutions, LLC and Navient Credit Finance Corporation.  It may affect our Florida clients with private student loans as it is seeking a nationwide class.

I understand that postcards are now being sent out to potential claimants.  While this class action is still in its infancy and has not yet been certified there are important things you should know right now about this:

  1. First and foremost, the info below will tell you what the case is about and how to be a part of it.
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auto-stayThe automatic stay that normally applies when a debtor files bankruptcy, does not work the same in a second or even third bankruptcy case.  This has caught many debtors unaware and may cause the loss of a home.

In a 2nd bankruptcy filing, the automatic stay expires after 30 days.  During that time you have to get it extended.  We recommend filing a motion to do so when the case is filed to have enough time to get an order entered before the stay expires.

Sometimes debtors find it necessary to file a 3rd bankruptcy.  Perhaps a job loss or insufficient paperwork caused the prior bankruptcies to be dismissed.  If so, it’s important to know that the automatic stay does not apply at all for a 3rd bankruptcy.  As soon as possible, the debtor would want to file a motion to impose the stay, even to the point of filing a request for an emergency hearing if a foreclosure sale is looming.  It’s also important to note that you cannot file bankruptcy on the eve of a foreclosure sale because there is no stay until you can get one in place.  Typically you would have to identify factors in the motion and at the hearing as to why this third case will be more successful than the prior ones that were dismissed, as well as show the feasibility of any plan to keep the home (which could include a loan modification at an estimated payment of 31% of your gross income).

Published on: Taibbi of the Rolling Stones just published a very enlightening piece “The Great College Loan Swindle” today.  He explains just how universities, banks, and the government turned student loan debt into America’s next financial bubble — or as a client called it this week a “nightmare”.

He highlights a student who very nearly committed suicide over overwhelming student loan debt incurred at age 19.  The spiral of debt began  with colleges telling everyone who could, to go to school and get a college degree to remain competitive in today’s marketplace.  That a high school diploma is no longer enough.  But if everyone goes to college, this simply means that a bachelor’s degree is the equivalent of a high school degree 10 years ago.  Kind of like 50 is the new 40.

Parents not wanting to stand in the way of their child’s future, either paid out the nose or went into debt themselves by signing Parent Plus loans.  Kids were pressured to sign loan applications electronically semester after semester.  The students we spoke with did not receive paper copies of the applications they signed.  No one really knew what the total balance would turn out to be.

Published on: Plus loans continue to be a big problem.  Not only are the consumers unable to pay the loans that were taken out for their children, they are continuing to not take advantage of plans that would allow them to pay less without hurting their credit.

Case in point: (As an aside, this client found me by googling “student loan nightmare”.  Sad, but true.)

One client I met with this week received a statement from her FedLoan servicer that the amount due was now $542.88.  On an income of $35,000 with a husband unable to work, our client simply could not afford that.  When she called her servicer, she was informed that she did not qualify for income based repayment and her only option once she came off forbearance was to pay $542.88.  But we can lower her payment by more than 50%!  And once she retires, her payment can likely go to zero.

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Our firm was instrumental in the filing of several class actions in Florida against Navient and Great Lakes for our clients who believed they were accruing time toward public service loan forgiveness — when it turns out their loans were not eligible.  The kicker is all they needed to do was move their loans from the FFEL program to the Direct program.  But this information was never provided by their loan servicer and they now have to start from scratch.  Don’t let this be you:  contact us or a knowledgeable student loan attorney for a check up RIGHT NOW.  Make sure you are on track with these student loans.

Further information about the PSLF program, see our website here.  If you doubt what we can do to help reduce student loan debt, check out our reviews for what our clients are saying.  Do you need a student loan lawyer? 

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Top-bk-blogOne of the best ways of getting information out to the general public has been our blog.  It helps to get the word out on what consumers should be doing to help their financial future.  Topics have been on things that our law firm has helped clients in the past such as bankruptcy, foreclosure defense, student loan debt relief, creditor harassment, home loan modifications, short sales, garnishment, credit card defense, you name it.  Going forward we plan to focus a little more on getting on your feet after a financial crisis in our efforts to help you Reboot Your Life.

We ranked 12th in the nation for top bankruptcy blogs.  Feedspot culls from thousands of top Bankruptcy blogs using their index using search and social metrics.  The blogs are ranked based upon Google reputation and search ranking, influence on social media sites, and qualify and consistency of posts.

If our blog has helped you, please consider liking and following our firm facebook page and sharing our posts.  We particularly want to get the word out to student loan sufferers that there are ways to reduce student loan debt that their servicers aren’t telling them about.  Most of those student loan solutions do not involve bankruptcy either.

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How can a bankruptcy help reduce your student loan debt?

We’ve been making great strides in obtaining student loan debt relief in bankruptcy lately.  Most people think only of whether their student loans can be discharged in bankruptcy.  Usually the answer is “no”.  But that’s not where the focus should be in most cases.

Our goal is simple:   reduce student loan debt to manageable and sustainable levels with an end in sight.  We do this for both our bankruptcy and non-bankruptcy clients.  This may include discharging some private student loans in bankruptcy.  It may include taking advantage of all income based/debt forgiveness opportunities for federal loans, both in and outside of bankruptcy.  Just selecting the right program can make a huge difference.  At least half the clients who come and see us are in the wrong program costing them hundreds more per month in some cases.  Public service loan forgiveness is a huge mess.  New grounds exist to object to private debt owned by NCSLT that can be used to strike their debt – called proofs of claim — in bankruptcy.  All this can add up to hundreds of dollars of savings per month, and possibly tens or more thousands of dollars over a Chapter 13 bankruptcy plan.

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you-got-this-fist-bumpThis could easily be you!  This is a word-for-word review posted this week by a satisfied student loan client:

Christie Arkovich and her team changed my life for the better. I went to her stressed because I couldn’t afford my monster student loan payment any longer (and getting a deferment or forbearance would give me temporary relief, but my already huge monthly payment would go up over 60% after the two year term). Christie assured me there were other alternatives and ended up getting my monthly payment reduced by an astonishing 88% AND emancipating me from having to deal with awful, %#@$ Navient. The process was very smooth, easy and inexpensive (she even offers a payment plan). If you are in despair over your student loans, give her a call – seriously. I’m NOT stressed about my loan for the first time in over ten years, it’s incredible – thank you, Christie!!!

Own your Student Loans — Rather than Owing them.

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