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Student Loan Counselor, Student Loan Lawyer, Or Do-It-Yourself?

When you’ve got student loan problems, it seems as if everyone wants to help.  Making the right choice may mean the difference between success and failure in getting back on track.

There are plenty of ways you can handle your student loans.  As the amount of education debt has skyrocketed over the past decade more companies have begun offering services to help borrowers.  Here are some of the options.

Student Loan Counselor

These for-profit companies have sprung up over the past few years, all claiming to help student loan borrowers stay out of default and repay their loans.

The companies often move people into consolidation loans, making no guarantees and merely helping to complete the documents necessary to consolidate through the U.S. Department of Education in return for what some have called high fees.

Many of these companies help with federal loans only, and not with the private student loans that are becoming more common.  They don’t help people get out of default, nor do many student loan counselors help people with income-based repayment or any of the administrative forgiveness or discharge options.

Finally, a student loan counselor is not a lawyer.  This means that if a lender violates any of the federal or state consumer protection laws, you’re going to need to find a lawyer to help you.  In fact, a student loan counselor isn’t in a position to advise you about these laws (doing so is considered unauthorized practice of law, and is illegal).

In spite of these downsides to using a student loan counselor, the reality is that not everyone has a student loan lawyer like me nearby to help.  If that’s the case, spending the money on such a company may be a good option so long as you understand the limitations involved.

Do-It-Yourself

Some people can work through student loan problems without outside help.  It’s going to take some time and effort, but understanding your options doesn’t require an advanced degree.

The federal regulations are widely available, and digging into the U.S. Department of Education website and forms should give you a good head start.  For people who are long on time and short on money, it’s definitely an option to consider.

Student Loan Lawyer

if you want to get the job done correctly, you’re going to want to invest in a student loan lawyer because only an attorney has a full range of solutions available to you.

For example, let’s say the student loan collectors are too aggressive in pursuing payment.  Only a lawyer who understands student loan law as well as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and related state and federal laws can tell if the actions are against the law.  And only an attorney can file a lawsuit on your behalf against a student loan collector who violates your federal or state rights.

The attorney is also bound by a separate set of ethical and licensing rules, so you’ve got recourse if something goes wrong.  A for-profit student loan counselor can be sued if the work isn’t done as promised, but you can take the extra step of complaining to a state licensing board if a lawyer drops the ball.  That’s a powerful remedy, and one that binds every lawyer.

Choose Wisely

As with anything, there are lots of options for solving your student loan problems.  Depending on the amount of time you’ve got at your disposal, different solutions may work best for you.  But if you’re serious about getting the most complete solution, give me a call – a student loan lawyer is your best defense to an educational loan gone awry.

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By |August 6th, 2012|

About the Author:

I've been a consumer protection lawyer since 1995, working to help people end their bill problems. I'm a faculty member at the Student Loan Law Workshop, a nationally recognized speaker, and a long-time member of both the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys and National Association of Consumer Advocates.
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