For many of us, law school would not have been possible without student loans. Yet, CNN reported on Wednesday, that the Senate failed to reverse a measure that doubled the interest rates of millions of student loans to 6.8%. What's more, The Washington Post notes that if this issue isn't resolved before the August recess, many students will lock in these high rates once the school year starts.
Here's a breakdown of your options and how to take advantage of them ...
Deferments: Student loan deferments allow you to delay payments on your loan, and depending on your loan, interest may, or may not accrue during deferment.
Conditions that may allow you to defer your student loans include:
Temporary Total Disability -- Option to defer up to 3 years if you, or a family member, suffer a total temporary disability if: you obtained your loan before July 1, 1993 and, (a) you are unable to work for 60 days or; (b) if your spouse or dependant has the disability, you have to take care of person for at least 3 months.
Rehabilitation for Disability -- Option to defer loan payments for the term of rehabilitation plus 6 months if you are currently enrolled in a rehabilitation program.
Unemployment -- If you are unemployed and can prove that you are unemployed and looking for full time work.
Economic Hardship -- If you took out your loan after June 30, 1993, you are automatically entitled to deferment if you are on public assistance. If not, you can still apply for deferment, but you'll need to prove your income.
Currently Enrolled in School -- If you've enrolled in school, at a minimum, on a half-time basis.
Cancellation of Student Loans
Under a set of very strict circumstances, you may be able to get your loans cancelled. We're hoping options one and two won't apply to you.
Death of the borrower.
Permanent Total Disability -- If you suffer from a permanent disability that, (a) you did not have when you applied for the loan, or (b) got much worse; and this injury, (i) prevents you from working for an indefinite period of time; or (ii) will likely cause your death.
Law Enforcement -- if you work in law enforcement, some older Perkins loans can be cancelled.
In the following three instances, you may get your loans deferred or cancelled, depending on the circumstances:
Uniformed Service -- If you are serving the country in a uniformed service.
Serving a Needy Population -- If you are serving a needy population.
Community Service -- If you are currently performing community service (i.e., the Peace Corps).
With forbearance you can delay payments for up to one year, while interest accrues. To apply for forbearance you must contact your lender.
Bankruptcy and Student Loan Discharge
Bankruptcy and loan discharge is very difficult, almost impossible, under current law. You can lawyer up and try, but that costs money, no?
Hopefully, you won't need to take advantage of any of these options and you can pay for your loans outright. If not, contact your lenders to find out what your particular options are for the specific loans you have.