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He Got $221,000 Of Student Loan Forgiveness, But Then This Happened

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This veteran thought he got $221,000 of student loan forgiveness, but then this happened. Here’s what you need to know.

Student Loans: Bankruptcy

A Navy veteran was granted $221,000 of of student loan forgiveness, which is also known as student loan discharge. U.S. bankruptcy judge in New York, Cecilia G. Morris, ruled that Kevin J. Rosenberg will not have to repay his student loan debt because it will impose an undue financial hardship.

However, in a relatively rare move in bankruptcy cases, his student loan servicer, Education Credit Management Corporation (ECMC), is now appealing the ruling.

“Instead of pursuing those opportunities available to him, and paying back his taxpayer-backed federal student loans, Plaintiff, for the past 10 years, has held various positions in the outdoor adventure industry, including starting up and running his own tour guide business,” ECMC wrote in filings.

ECMC claims that Rosenberg, who has a law degree from Cordozo Law School at Yeshiva University, could have earned more income working as an attorney. Rosenberg borrowed $116,500 of student loans between 1993 and 2004. He filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2018 and asked the court last June to discharge his student loan debt, which had grown to $221,400, including interest. At the time of filing, Rosenberg’s annual salary was $37,600, and after living and debt expenses, his monthly net loss was $1,500.

Traditionally, unlike mortgages or credit card debt, student loans cannot be discharged in bankruptcy. There are exceptions, however, namely if certain conditions regarding financial hardship are met.

The Brunner Test: Financial Hardship

Those conditions are reflected in the Brunner test, which is the legal test in all circuit courts, except the 8th circuit and 1st circuit. The 8th circuit uses a totality of circumstances, which is similar to Brunner, while the 1st circuit has yet to declare a standard.

In plain English, the Brunner standard says:

  1. the borrower has extenuating circumstances creating a hardship;
  2. those circumstances are likely to continue for a term of the loan; and
  3. the borrower has made good faith attempts to repay the loan. (The borrower does not actually have to make payments, but merely attempt to make payments – such as try to find a workable payment plan.)

“Inability to pay one’s debts by itself cannot be sufficient to establish an undue hardship; otherwise all bankruptcy litigants would have an undue hardship,” ECMC argued.

What Else Can You Do If You’re Struggling To Make Student Loan Payments?

Here are some potential action steps:

1. Income-Driven Repayment: For federal student loans, consider an income-driven repayment plan such as IBR, PAYE or REPAYE. Your payment is based on your discretionary income, family size and other factors, and you can receive federal student loan forgiveness on the remaining balance after 20 or 25 years of payments. However, you will owe income taxes on the amount of student loans forgiven.

2. Pay Off Other Debt: Pay off credit card debt first. Credit card debt typically has a higher interest rate than student loans. You may qualify for a personal loan at a lower interest rate, which can be used to pay off credit card debt, save you money in interest costs and potentially improve your credit score.

3. Contact your lender: If you’re facing financial struggle, don’t keep it a secret from your lender. Contact your lender to discuss alternative payment options.

4. Refinance student loans: Student loan refinancing rates are incredibly cheap right now and start at 1.99%. Student loan refinancing is the fastest way to pay off student loan debt. To qualify, you’ll need a credit score of at least 650 and enough monthly income for living expenses and debt repayment. If you meet those requirements, you may be a good candidate for student loan refinancing. If you don’t, you can also apply with a cosigner to help you get approved and get a lower interest rate.

This student loan refinancing calculator shows how much you can save with student loan refinancing.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website or some of my other work here.

Zack Friedman is the bestselling author of the blockbuster book, The Lemonade Life: How To Fuel Success, Create Happiness, and Conquer Anything. Apple named The Lemonade Life one of “Fall’s Biggest Audiobooks” and a “Must-Listen.” Zack is the Founder & CEO of Make Lemonade, a leading online personal finance company that empowers you to live a better financial life. He is an in-demand speaker and has inspired millions through his powerful insights. Previously, he was chief financial officer of an international energy company, a hedge fund investor, and worked at Blackstone, Morgan Stanley, and the White House. Zack holds degrees from Harvard, Wharton, Columbia, and Johns Hopkins.

Source: He Got $221,000 Of Student Loan Forgiveness, But Then This Happened

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Avoid These 10 Public Service Loan Forgiveness Mistakes – Zack Friedman

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It’s no secret that student loan forgiveness is a hot topic. When it comes to Public Service Loan Forgiveness, in particular, the requirements can be tricky.

That’s why it’s critical to ensure you know the details and are not headed down the wrong path.

Here are the 10 most common public service loan forgiveness mistakes to avoid at all costs.

1. Thinking Public Service Loan Forgiveness is automatic

Nope. Thinking that you work in “public service” and are performing a “public service” job won’t cut it.

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program is a federal program that forgives federal student loans for borrowers who are employed full-time (more than 30 hours per week) in an eligible federal, state or local public service job or 501(c)(3) non-profit job who make 120 eligible on-time payments.

Those “eligibility” requirements bring us to our second common mistake.

2. Not completing the Employment Certification Form

 The number one thing you can do to ensure you’re on track for public service loan forgiveness is to complete the Employment Certification Form.

The next question is: how often should I submit the employment certification form for public service loan forgiveness?

You should submit this form:

  • when you begin a job in public service
  • when you switch employers
  • annually

It’s important to submit this form annually to keep the U.S. Department of Education aware of your employment to ensure you’re on the right track.

3. Submitting an Employment Certification Form with errors

This sounds like a no-brainer, but your employment certification form could be rejected if there are errors.

Here are a few common mistakes:

  • information on one form that does not match previous forms
  • missing information such as an employer address
  • not completing all the required fields
  • correcting errors on the form, and then failing to place your initials next to the corrected errors

This all may sound bureaucratic, but better safe than sorry.

4. Not having your employment certification form signed by your employer

Your employment certification form must be signed by an authorized official at your employer.

Make sure it is that person who signs the form, not the person who sits next to you at work.

5. Not enrolling in an income-driven federal student loan repayment plan

To be eligible for public service loan forgiveness, you must be enrolled in an income-driven federal student loan repayment plan.

Remember, only federal student loans (not private student loans) are eligible for public service loan forgiveness). You also must make a majority of the 120 required payments while enrolled in a federal student loan repayment plan.

While the 10 Year Standard Repayment Plan qualifies for public service loan forgiveness, your federal student loans would be paid off after 10 years so there would be no more student loans to forgive.

How do you know which income-driven student loan repayment plan is best for you? Well, it depends on your specific financial situation.

This public service loan forgiveness calculator shows you which income-driven student loan repayment plan will maximize your student loan forgiveness.

6. Forgetting to consolidate your student loans, if necessary

Remember, only Direct student loans qualify for public service loan forgiveness.

So, if you have Perkins Loans, FFEL Loans or you borrowed student loans before 2011, you may need to consolidate these federal student loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan.

How do you know if you have Direct student loans?

You can check at Federal Student Aid. If you don’t see the word “Direct” next to your student loans, then you may need to consolidate those student loans.

How do you consolidate those student loans?

If you decide to consolidate those student loans, you can do so through StudentLoans.gov.

7. Not taking advantage of Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness

Were you denied public service loan forgiveness because you were enrolled in the wrong student loan repayment plan?

Congress has set aside an extra $350 million of public service loan forgiveness for this exact situation.

8. Failing to re-certify your income each year

As the name suggests, your income-driven student loan repayment plan is based on your income.

As your income may change each year, the federal government wants to ensure that you are still eligible for that income-driven student loan repayment plan.

Therefore, make sure to re-certify your income each year at studentloans.gov. At the same time, you can submit your annual Employer Certification Form.

9. Skipping student loan payments

While your 120 student loan payments under public service loan forgiveness do not have to be consecutive, you need to submit each payment within 15 days of the due date for that payment to count.

10. Thinking your job is what qualifies you for public service loan forgiveness, when it’s your employer that matters

Remember, it’s your employer that matters, not your role.

If you work with a non-profit, but are employed by a private company, this would not qualify for public service loan forgiveness.

Now that you’re in the know, hopefully the path toward public service loan forgiveness will be smoother.

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