Help Desk FAQ

Student loans


I’m having trouble making my student loan payments—what are my options?

If you have federal student loans, there are four income-driven repayment (IDR) plans for borrowers who are struggling. Under these plans, payments are capped at a percentage of your income.

An IDR plan is not always the best choice for every borrower, and not every loan type or borrower qualifies for every plan. Visit the Federal Student Aid (FSA) website for an overview of all plans. 

Note:The Department of Education doesn't charge anything to take advantage of any federal student loan repayment plan, so beware of “services” that urge you to pay for help managing your federal loans and/or applying for federal loan consolidation

Unfortunately, if you have private student loans, you have few options for relief. There is no option for private student loan forgiveness, and private lenders and loan servicers are under no obligation to offer borrowers more flexible repayment plans.

Still, some private lenders may temporarily reduce your monthly payment to cover only the interest portion of your payment. Contact your lender to see if it offers loan deferment or a temporary adjustment to payments for borrowers in financial difficulty. If your lender doesn’t offer any reasonable options, refinancing through a new lender might be your best bet—if you’re not delinquent on your loans. Once you’re in default, negotiating a settlement might be your last resort.

Learn more in the Winter 2017-2018 “Repaying Your Student Loans” issue of Consumer Action News.




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