Category: ‘Student Loans’

Judges Would Not Consider Forgiving Student Loan Debt until Now

June 18, 2018 Posted by kingcade

Bankruptcy judges have traditionally refused to forgive student loans as part of the bankruptcy process, no matter how severe the debt may be for the borrower. However, this mindset is slowly beginning to change as some judges are beginning to give some relief to borrowers who are drowning in student loan debt.

According to the Wall Street Journal, more than 50 current and former bankruptcy judges have been reported as being frustrated with the lack of relief they see borrowers receiving when it comes to student loan debt. These individuals come into bankruptcy with six-figure student loan balances but are oftentimes turned away due to lack of resources or the legal ability to help these borrowers.

Once such bankruptcy judge is U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge John Waites from South Carolina who has expressed the belief that if the law is not going to change, it is up to the courts to offer that help.

It is reported that approximately 45 million individuals carry some form of student loan debt in the United States. The amount of this debt has jumped to $1.4 trillion, and the majority of this debt is backed by the federal government. Student loan debt has surpassed credit cards as the largest source of consumer debt, following mortgages. However, the problem is that most other forms of debt can be liquidated in bankruptcy. For years, the legal standard has made student loan debt essentially untouchable.

The current Presidential Administration is reviewing whether to fight the requests to cancel student loan debt through bankruptcy less aggressively than they have in the past.  However, until that happens, bankruptcy lawyers are noticing that judges are being more lenient when these requests are made in court.

The latest review was done in 2017 and involved judges’ ruling on student loan debt 16 times. Out of these cases, 12 of them ended with the judges preserving the debt with only three canceling. In one case, the borrower was granted partial relief.

Click here to read more on this story.

For borrowers who are struggling with student loan debt, relief options are available.  Many student loan borrowers are unaware that they have rights and repayment options available to them, such as postponement of loan payments, reduction of payments or even a complete discharge of the debt. There are ways to file for bankruptcy with student loan debt.  It is important you contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

 

 

 

Income-Based Repayment Plans – The Pros & Cons

June 15, 2018 Posted by kingcade

Many individuals struggle to make their student loan payments, and for those borrowers facing six figures in student loan debt, that one monthly payment can be an overwhelming burden.

However, what happens when a borrower is facing over a million dollars in student loan debt?

For one orthodontist featured in a recent Wall Street Journal article, this was his reality. He owed $1,060,945.42 in student loans, with the interest accruing at a rate of $130 daily, which also comes to $3,900 monthly or $46,800 annually.

His income in 2017 was $225,000, and he is paying his student loans back under a federal government income-based repayment (IBR) program. It can seem hardly fathomable that a man of his income level would qualify for such a program. His monthly student loan payment is $1,600. At this rate, he is not making much of a dent on the interest accruing, and it is likely he will stay on his IBR program for the 25-year period allowed. However, after that time, even though he has made barely a dent in the total balance, his student loans will be forgiven with the negative income tax consequences following, of course.

Only 101 of approximately 41 million student loan borrowers owe that much in student loan debt, but for certain career fields, like medical  or law, these debts can quickly add up to $500,000 easily.

The average law student debt varies depending on the school location and any discounts offered in the tuition for the student. However, taking the tuition, costs, and living expenses into account, a law student can come out with $200,000 plus in student loan debt. The law graduate’s dream is to land that high paying firm job, but most end up starting at a salary between $40,000 and $65,000. It is easy to see how someone can become stuck on an income-based program by paying the minimum monthly on a relatively small salary compared to what is owed.

Click here to read more on this story.

For borrowers who are struggling with student loan debt, relief options are available.  Many student loan borrowers are unaware that they have rights and repayment options available to them, such as postponement of loan payments, reduction of payments or even a complete discharge of the debt. There are ways to file for bankruptcy with student loan debt.  It is important you contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

Understanding the Deceptive Practices of Student Loan Companies

June 6, 2018 Posted by kingcade

Over 44 million Americans are finding themselves in over their heads when it comes to student loan debt. It can be hard to see an end in sight when facing six figures of student loan debt following graduation, but for many, student loans are almost considered a “given” if someone wants to pursue a higher education.  Private student loan companies are now trying to make it even more enticing to take out more money to cover these costs.

In the grand scheme of things, government loans still constitute the majority of what is borrowed. Currently, private student loans account for less than 10 percent of all student loan debt, which is a relatively small percentage.

Private lenders have been hoping for this to change and have been actively lobbying for legislation that would lessen the restrictions the government has on student loans, specifically when it comes to graduate students.

This legislation, known as the Prosper Act, was written and proposed by Republican lawmakers last year. It caps the amount of federal student aid graduate students can receive. This cap on federal aid leaves a gap between what the students are able to borrow and how much tuition costs. Concerns have been expressed that students will have no choice but to seek private loan options to pay for the remainder of these costs not covered by government aid.

The next step is for these private loan companies to make their product more appealing to borrowers. What better way to do this than by making friends with the borrowers themselves? Many of these companies, in fact, are now making their product seem more like they are a lifestyle company than a lender.

One such company, Laurel Road, has partnered with MoviePass, a movie theater subscription service. The company has announced that if an individual refinances his or her student loans with Laurel Road, that person will be eligible for one year’s subscription.

Another private lender, Social Finance, Inc. (SoFi) has made small changes to its branding by changing how it refers to its borrowers. Instead of “customers,” these individuals are now referred to as “members.” It may seem like a small change, but this difference in designation also includes invitations to exclusive “member only” events, like cocktail parties and cooking classes. SoFi brands itself as more of a social club than what it actually is– a private financial institution. In 2017, SoFi offered 323 nationwide member events for its over 14,000 “members.” The company also offers an app that allows its members who meet at events to communicate to each other through the app.

The Laurel Road partnership is just one example of private lending companies trying to rebrand student loan debt as something more “fun.” The problem is further compounded when these loan companies do very little to educate their borrowers on the terms of the loans. When borrowers fail to pay back the debt as it becomes due, many of these lenders have been accused of illegally harassing their customers.  Borrowers have become so desperate to pay back their debts, in fact, that some have even resorted to game show antics to find a way out. Recently, a new game show called “Paid Off with Michael Torpey” has offered student borrowers a chance to compete on TV with the prize being having their student debt paid off. The series is premiering on TruTV in July 2018. Many have criticized this new program, saying it trivializes a very serious, growing problem.  However, it does demonstrate what lengths borrowers will go to in order to get some relief from their crippling debt.

Click here to read more on this story.

For borrowers who are struggling with student loan debt, relief options are available.  Many student loan borrowers are unaware that they have rights and repayment options available to them, such as postponement of loan payments, reduction of payments or even a complete discharge of the debt. There are ways to file for bankruptcy with student loan debt.  It is important you contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

 

 

 

 

Study Finds Parent PLUS Loans to African American Families Can Be Predatory

June 1, 2018 Posted by kingcade

College is expensive and finding ways to pay for tuition and associated costs can be difficult for many students, as well as their family members. When options are limited, sometimes parents resort to taking out loans themselves to help their children pay for the costs of a higher education. Recently, one such loan has been criticized, the Parent PLUS loan for its terms and conditions, and also the effect it has on the parents who sign on the dotted line, not fully knowing what they are agreeing to.

A study recently issued by New America reports that a higher percentage of low-income African American parents rely on the use of Parent PLUS loans more than low-income whites. The study recommends making the use of Parent PLUS loans off limits to any family of limited financial means and offering additional, and affordable federal loan options for lower income families.

Families often resort to the parent PLUS loans after their children have maxed out other federal loan options. Many of the features of Parent PLUS loans have given them the reputation of being a loan of “last resort.” The limits tend to be fairly generous, the underwriting limited and the interest rates high.

The repayment options that parents are given on these loans are very limited, which only increases the risk that the borrower parents will default on the loan obligation. By having parents take these loans out, creates a level of “intergenerational debt” that can be crippling.

An additional problem with Parent PLUS loans have been the fact that lenders have issued these loans without evaluating the borrower’s ability to repay them. Without properly qualifying the borrower, issuing the loan simply puts them in a situation where he or she ends up falling behind on payments.

These loans were originally intended for families with more financial resources and in higher income tax brackets whose children may not qualify for need-based aid. In fact, most of the PLUS borrowers are from families earning more than $75,000 annually, many of them coming from upper class, Caucasian families with only 10 percent of Caucasian families earning less than $30,000 taking out these loans. However, for African American families, one-third of these individuals who have ended up taking out a PLUS loan earn less than $30,000, which is the opposite of what the study found with Caucasian families in the same tax bracket.

Because of the high fees associated with these loans, repaying the Parent PLUS loans can be difficult. If the parent is already struggling to make monthly payments, few options exist for that parent when it comes to repayment options. Currently the only income-based payment plan is an income-contingent repay (ICR) plan. To qualify, the parent must convert the loan into a federal Direct Consolidation Loan, and the minimum monthly payment in an ICR is normally 20 percent of that person’s disposable income. The monthly payment may be lower, but the interest rate does not decrease. At some point, it becomes nearly impossible for that parent to get caught up.

The study recommends making these loans off-limits to families in the lower-income categories and encourages the Department of Education to allow students from these brackets to borrow more from themselves rather than resort to having their parents take out these types of loans.

The study also recommends no longer allowing schools to characterize these loans as “aid” in financial aid award letters. They also recommend requiring parents who take these loans out to complete counseling that makes it abundantly clear to them that these loans are their sole obligation and not their children, as well as explain the terms of the loans so that they are clearly understood.

Click here to read more on this story.

For borrowers who are struggling with student loan debt, relief options are available.  Many student loan borrowers are unaware that they have rights and repayment options available to them, such as postponement of loan payments, reduction of payments or even a complete discharge of the debt. There are ways to file for bankruptcy with student loan debt.  It is important you contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

Student Loans and Bankruptcy: Fixing a Broken System

May 30, 2018 Posted by kingcade

Student loan borrowers have continuously run into roadblocks when it comes to their student loan debt being discharged in bankruptcy cases. Many students graduate with well over six figures in student loan debt, causing them financial hardship for years.

The Department of Education recently solicited comments and input on what loan holders should consider when making a determination on whether to discharge student loans in bankruptcy. As a result, the Department ended up receiving over 400 comments in response to this request.

Currently borrowers have to prove that paying the student loan debt would constitute an “undue hardship” to the borrower. Traditionally, this standard has been a very hard one to meet. For student loans issued by the government, borrowers have had to jump a rather high hurdle to show this undue hardship. In addition, no set standard has been issued for determining what an undue hardship is, resulting in different courts applying different standards.

Only Congress can modify how the law handles discharging student loan debt in bankruptcy cases, but the Department of Education does have some say in making a recommendation on how these cases are handled. An official memo from the Department may go a long way in providing guidance for judges when evaluating these cases.

One possible change is clear criteria will be given to help determine what an undue hardship is. One recommendation has been establishing whether a student loan borrower is near the poverty line, has been determined to be unemployable due to a disability or whether the person is a caretaker for someone who is disabled or chronically ill.

Another recommendation was to make the standard more lenient to allow for more borrowers to be able to discharge student loans in bankruptcy. Congress has never given a clear definition for what undue hardship consists of, but many courts have used the “Brunner” test to determine what this means.

The Brunner test requires that the borrower show that he or she has made a good faith effort in repaying the debt, that the financial circumstance is such that the person cannot have a reasonable standard of living if he or she has to repay the debt, and this financial situation is likely to continue in the future. The problem is this standard is not easy to meet with each court viewing it differently. It has been recommended that courts use a more lenient standard called the totality of the circumstances test, which looks broadly at the debtor’s financial situation to determine if paying the loan(s) back constitutes a hardship.

Other comments suggested that the Department and loan issuers also consider whether the borrower finished college and whether he or she was victim of fraudulent conduct before making an ultimate determination on whether the debt should be discharged. This recommendation follows the issues that have followed students who have attended for-profit colleges who have been accused of enticing students to attend their schools with inflated job placement figures and graduation rates.

The strict standards that have been used in not allowing borrowers to have their student loan obligations discharged have kept many from pursuing bankruptcy when they arguably need this relief the most.

Click here to read more on this story.

For borrowers who are struggling with student loan debt, relief options are available.  Many student loan borrowers are unaware that they have rights and repayment options available to them, such as postponement of loan payments, reduction of payments or even a complete discharge of the debt. There are ways to file for bankruptcy with student loan debt.  It is important you contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.