If you are feeling the burden of your student loan debt, there are plenty of companies out there that advertise they can help you reduce your debt or even eliminate your debt. While these promises seem very appealing, the fact of the matter is that they are probably a scam. There are many people out there that will try to take advantage of college students with student loan debt. Here are some strategies for avoiding being tricked.
- Contact your loan servicer before you contact any outside agency. Typically, your loan servicer will be able to help you figure out a repayment plan that is right for you. With income-driven repayment plans, forbearance, and deferments, there are plenty of options available to you. All of these options can be serviced to you for free, so try and take advantage.
- If you do look toward an outside agency, do your research. Never take a company’s advertisement as factual before doing research on the company. While there are some legitimate debt relief agencies out there, most agencies who claim they can help you are either fraudulent or require a hefty fee. Make sure you completely understand the intentions of the outside agency.
- Never pay a large fee for a service you can complete yourself. There are agencies out there that will charge you to complete the FAFSA for you, to select a repayment plan, and many other actions you can accomplish on your own for free. If an agency is asking for a fee to complete one of these services, then they are most likely fraudulent.
- Do not fall for something that is “too good to be true.” If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. For example, no agency will be able to eliminate your loan debt completely. A large majority of the time your loan servicer is going to offer you the best options, so do not fall for the inaccurate promises offered by outside agencies.
- If your school informs you that they work hand-and-hand with a debt relief agency, then you can feel pretty confident that that agency is legitimate. In fact, many schools will encourage their loan borrowers to contact this agency if they are unsure of how they are going to pay back their loans. For example, American Public University partners with ECMC Solutions to assist our students with all of their repayment questions.
Unfortunately, there are many people in this world who are looking to capitalize off of students who are in a tough situation. These people will prey on students who are overwhelmed with the burden of student loans. If you are feeling overwhelmed with your loan debt, remember the above tips. They will help to prevent you from getting tricked by fraudulent agencies.
By Ryan Laspina
Compliance and Default Prevent Specialist at American Public University System