Student loan debt is a burden that 44 million graduates carry on their shoulders. For some, this burden is crippling and consumes their finances. If you’ve fallen into torment with your student loans, it may be time to think about hiring a student loan lawyer.
Hiring anyone to help you with your finances is a big step. Before making the move to hire a student loan attorney, consider what the experts below have to say about it.
How can student loan lawyers help?
Student loan lawyers analyze your debt and fight for you. They’ll do more than show up in a courtroom.
According to Adam S. Minsky, a practicing attorney in New York and Massachusetts, student loan lawyers can help you with a variety of issues, including:
- Navigating complicated federal loan programs
- Counseling individuals on their legal rights and options
- Resolving legal disputes
- Defending borrowers being pursued by a debt collector or lender
A student loan lawyer provides confidential assistance for student loan situations that are beyond high payments. Litigation, lawsuits, financial hardships, disputes and student loan default are all extreme cases that could require expertise. Anything remotely legal can be handled by a student loan lawyer.
When does it make sense to hire a student loan lawyer?
Hiring an attorney of any kind will carry a price tag, so you want to be sure it’s the right choice for your situation.
Josh Cohen, an attorney who regularly defends borrower’s rights in Connecticut and Vermont, said:
“If the borrower is at all concerned about potential wrongdoing by the industry, it’s worth reaching out to a student loan lawyer. A non-lawyer can explain that something was done incorrectly, but they cannot dive into a legal claim, they cannot review for a potential lawsuit and they certainly can’t file a lawsuit for such wrongdoing.”
Every financial situation is different, but there are a few common scenarios where hiring a student loan attorney makes sense, according to Cohen.
- If your students loans were misrepresented: Misrepresentations by a student loan servicer or a debt collector could lead to a lawsuit – only a lawyer can review that.
- If a loan at issue was fraudulent: Only a lawyer can handle the legal issues to resolve it. Credit report disputing is fine, but resolution without a lawsuit for student loan fraud is unheard of.
- If student loan rehabilitation was done incorrectly: Bankruptcy may be needed in this case to stop wage garnishment or stop the loan from going into default. Bankruptcy without a lawyer is risky.
Before hiring anyone, be sure to talk to your student loan servicer. Exhaust your options and keep records of the conversations. This will be helpful if you need to reach out to a student loan lawyer.
How can you be sure your student loan attorney is reputable?
Do your research. Start with a quick Google search and look for public information records. Minsky and Cohen suggest looking into the following within your own state:
- Confirm the attorney is registered with the state bar via public record
- Check for any disciplinary actions filed via public record
- Look into what they’ve published in writing online
- See if you can find reviews from clients
Also ask yourself if what they’re saying makes sense. Assess how they present themselves, and be wary of student loan debt relief companies. Occasionally these companies associate themselves with lawyers for marketing. But that doesn’t mean you’ll be getting any legal help from them.
Look to hire an individual lawyer who specializes in student loan law within your state. Heather Jarvis, a student loan attorney who practices in North Carolina, advises borrowers to choose an attorney who’s committed to representing the interests of consumers. It’s important you don’t enter into a client-lawyer relationship with an attorney who practices outside of your state, as this can be unethical.
Jarvis is a member of the National Association of Consumer Advocates (NACA), an organization of attorneys committed to protecting and representing consumer interests. Search for a student loan lawyer in your state on the NACA website.
What about the cost of hiring a student loan lawyer?
The cost to hire a lawyer can vary considerably depending on the scope and type of services you’re looking for. So the better question may be: “Is it worth it?”
It can be hard to justify spending money when you’re already in a tough spot financially. Cohen looks at it this way:
“People will say they can’t afford it [hiring a lawyer] because of a wage garnishment. Understand the wage garnishment hits every paycheck. Isn’t it worth a one-time fee to get answers and solutions to stop the garnishment? One month’s garnishment amount used for an attorney could stop the garnishment for good, get the borrower in a better position than before and likely obtain affordable payments so the borrower never has to worry about garnishment ever again. Is that worth a fee? It is, in my book.”
Most student loan lawyers charge for an initial analysis. This will help them decide what kind of legal action to take while assessing your situation. This alone could be worth the money.
Student loans aren’t all carved in stone. There are options for taking control of your student loans, even if legal action is sometimes required.
Weigh the return on investment from hiring a student loan lawyer. Attorney Stanley Tate, who works extensively on student loan issues, explained how some private loan cases can be settled for 20 to 60 cents on the dollar. Clearly having an expert in your corner could pay for itself.
How to take control as a student loan borrower
Student loans can be managed. There are forgiveness programs and repayment programs available for federal student loans. Student loan refinancing can be investigated for private student loans. Any number of these programs for managing your debt can be looked into without a lawyer.
After doing your research and talking to your student loan servicer, you may still be in a deep hole. Getting legal help with your finances can be the step to taking back control if you’ve entered collections, bankruptcy or a lawsuit. If you need legal consultation, we encourage you to reach out to Josh Cohen, Adam Minsky, Jay Fleischman, or Stanley Tate if you reside in one of the states where they practice.
The team at Student Loan Planner is a good place to start examining your student loans. We usually suggest working with an attorney if you’re looking for student loan relief. They’re going to be able to negotiate with creditors and help you navigate servicer issues.
Student Loan Planner’s expertise is in crafting a plan that minimizes the anxiety and cost of student loan debt you’re shouldering. We aren’t lawyers, but our student loan consultants can point you in the right direction to pay off your student loans.