A reader of AskTheMoneyCoach.com had a question related to the discharge of her student loans. Although the inquiry was specific to her particular circumstances, it’s a somewhat common situation.
So I’m sharing the question – and my answer – in an effort to help anyone wondering if they should ever pay someone to help get rid of student loans.
Here’s the person’s exact question:
Q: I was told by someone that they could take care of my students loans for a fee, so I paid them $500. When I graduated from school, the individual didn’t do what they promised. Now I’m stuck with the loans. It was determined that I have a math disability that made it difficult to pass math classes, and I did not pursue the degree I wanted but ended up with a general bachelor’s degree. Could my loans be discharged? I work for a government agency.
A: There are several scenarios under which borrowers can have student loans discharged. Before I explain your discharge options, however, let me first address the predicament you’ve described regarding you paying someone who promised to “take care” of your student loans.
You should never fork over your hard-earned dollars to any companies, entities or individuals that claim they can somehow magically make your student loans disappear. It simply doesn’t work that way.
People who make bogus promises like this are simply preying upon your naivete and your desire to be ride of your college debt.
No one can do anything to get rid of your student loans except you, and the process must always begin with you taking action once your know what our loan forgiveness or loan discharge rights are in any given circumstances.
So, I’m sure you learned this lesson the hard way: but in the future, don’t fall for con artists like this who basically just want to earn a quick buck with empty promises that they can relieve you of your student loan obligations.
As far as your discharge options, you can’t get a loan discharged simply because you have a math disability. Nor can you have your student loans discharged because you didn’t get the specific degree you originally intended.
Student loan discharge programs do exist, however, for the following:
False certification on the part of a college or university
Extreme economic distress that results in student loans being wiped out during a bankruptcy discharge
Complete and total disability
Loan cancellation or discharge due to death
Loan cancellation for teaching and community service; and
Loan forgiveness or discharge following specific academic/career paths, like law school or work in healthcare-related fields
Finally, for anyone who works for the federal government, you should also know about the Federal Student Loan Repayment Program, under which government employees can get up to $60,000 worth of federal student loans paid off by their employer.