Question: I took out a student loan in 2006, but my ex-husband was very controlling, pushing me to give up after a year. I tried to work with the repairer to reduce the debt, but had no luck. Is there anything I can do?
To respond: First, it’s important to make sure you don’t overlook the emotional impact of this situation. Financial therapist Alex Melkumian, founder of the Financial Psychology Center in Los Angeles, recommends focusing on addressing the psychological trauma associated with being in a financially abusive relationship. And Dr. Kirsten Thompson, board-certified psychiatrist and founder of Remedy Psychiatry, says that while there isn’t much legal recourse in this situation, it can be a good reminder of your personal growth. “When we think back to our past decisions, whether to tolerate an abusive partner’s order to drop out of school, or something else, and realize that we would have done things differently, had we had the opportunity again, it reminds us of how much we have grown,” says Thompson. For 24/7 access to resources and support for anyone living in an abusive relationship, visit the National Domestic Violence Help line or call 800-799-7233 (SAFE).
Understand how the student loan was handled during the divorce
David Glass, Certified Family Law Specialist and former therapist, recommends checking your dissolution judgment, as the student loan should have been assigned or divided by the court to one of the parties at the time of dissolution, similarly. manner in which the assets are transferred or divided. Right here is how student loan debt is generally handled during a divorce. “If you’re not officially divorced, there’s still time to go to court to settle the student debt issue,” says Glass.
Income-driven repayment plans and loan forgiveness
It is estimated that 40% of student borrowers are in debt and do not have a degree. “It is more difficult for borrowers without a diploma to repay their student debt. If you have federal student loans, you can access income-based repayment plans, which tie payments to a portion of your income and extend the payment term,” says Anna Helhoski, student loan expert at NerdWallet. These plans set the amount you pay each month at a portion of your income, which should make payments more manageable. “It’s a safety net, if you don’t have a job for example, your payment would be zero dollars and after 20 to 25 years the rest of your debt is forgiven,” says Helhoski. It’s not a perfect option, but it’s one that makes payments more manageable for most borrowers.
Have a question about getting out of a student loan or other debt? Email [email protected]
While you’re likely responsible for repaying your student loan, Leslie H. Tayne, financial attorney at Tayne Law Group, says you may be able to get your federal student loan balance forgiven if any of the following occur: applies: your school closed within 120 days whether you leave, have deliberately misled, or have committed a fault or broken the law, or have become totally and permanently disabled.
“If none of the above reflects your situation, you still have a few options to make sure your loan doesn’t negatively impact your life,” says Tayne. If you worked for the government or a non-profit organization and made 10 years of qualifying payments under an income-based repayment plan, you may be eligible for Cancellation of civil service loans. “You may also be eligible for a partial or full allowance Perkins loan forgiveness if you worked four to seven years in public service professions such as law enforcement or teaching,” Tayne says.
If your monthly bill under an IDR plan is still too high, Tayne says you can ask your servicer to defer or forbear temporarily deferring payments. “With deferral, interest will stop accumulating on your balance, but with forbearance, interest will continue to accrue, increasing what you owe — so think about it as a last resort,” says Tayne. This guide will help you understand the difference between a postponement and an abstention.
Should you consider refinancing?
With a private student loan, you have fewer options for more lenient repayments and loan forgiveness. “It’s worth researching location-specific student loan assistance programs near you or applying for jobs with employers who offer student loan repayment assistance as an employee benefit. says Tayne.
Sometimes borrowers can benefit from refinancing, but borrowers who are in financial difficulty are unlikely to qualify for private refinancing, says Mark Kantrowitz, author of Who graduated from college? Who doesn’t?. “If they qualify, the benefit may be limited, as interest rates are based on the borrower’s and co-signer’s credit scores. A borrower who is in financial difficulty may not qualify for a lower interest rate due to a lower credit score and a lower fixed interest rate, which often requires a shorter repayment term, which increases the monthly loan payment,” says Kantrowitz.
Questions edited for brevity and clarity.