Tag Archives: intercept

Forbearance on student loans – interest continues to accrue but other collection stops. tax refund intercepts, collection calls/letters and garnishments cease during forbearance

Forbearance is not as helpful as deferment. During forbearance, interest will still accrue, but there is some benefit to forbearance on student loans because collection actions such as 1040 tax retur refund intercepts, garnishments and collection calls/letters will cease during a forbearance period.

On the issue of deferments, a distinction must be made. First, you must figure out what type of loan that you have, whether it is "subsidized" or "unsubsidized".

A "subsidized" loan, such as a Direct Student Loan, the government pays the interest during any deferal period, but in an "unsubsidized" loan such as some Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL), the loan always is accruing interest (thus no interest is paid by the Government on behalf of the student like in a subsidized loan during deferal) so any interest that accrues during the deferal of an unsubsidized loan is usually capitalized into the loan and added to the loan balance.

One important distinction is that even a loan in "default" may receive a forbearance, although it can take some arguing and pushing with the student loan agency to achieve the forbearance. Generally, though, once a loan is in "default" it is no longer eligible for "deferal", and "deferal" of a subsidized loan can be quite valuable. But just beause a loan is not eligible for deferal does not mean that it is likewise ineligible for forbearance.

FFEL loans have two types of forbearances, known as "mandatory" and "discretionary". The Direct Loan proram does not make this distinction.

The area of FFEL and Direct Loans forbearances is vast, and this post can only scratch the surface, however, note that both the FFEL and Direct Loan regulations provide for forbearances if borrowers are in poor health or have other ersonal problems that affect the ability o the borrower to make the scheduled payments. Forbearance for these reasons is discretionary under FFEL regulations. The forbearance is granted up to a year at a time under FFEL but there are no limits to the number of years this type o forbearance may be granted. While you are seeking one of these one-year discretionary forbearances, do not forget to ask for an "administrative" forbearance – generally with a few exceptions, the FFEL "administrative" forbearance is granted by discretion.

When seeking a forbearance, I would suggest that you do so in writing (even if the writing is to confirm an oral understanding of forbearance) by using a form available at the Department of Education’s website www.ed.gov.

“Trade School” Student Loans – Beware – High default rates, no collection statute of limitations, you can lose your professional license and yes, they will keep at it forever, even garnishing your old age social security

My friends, I really, really want you to think twice about student loans – especially those taken out at proprietary vocational trade schools. Here is why: An August 2009 U.S. Government GAO report noted a disturbing trend. (U.S. Gov’t Accountability Office, GAO-09-600, Proprietary Schools: Stronger Deparment of Education Oversight Needed to Help Ensure Only Eligible Students Receive Federal Student Aid (August 2009))

According to the GAO, four years into repayment, a whopping 23.3% of students at proprietary schools were defaulting upon federal loans, a higher rate than students at either public colleges, where 9.5% were defaulting, or private ones, where 6.5% were in default.

Student loans can be really, really damaging. The damage can extend forever. Keep checking/searching this blog for frequently updated student loan related posts.

Here are a few things you should know about student loan collections:

Most defaulted student loan garnishments are quite a bit different than say "normal" medical bill lawsuit garnishments – for starters, most student loan garnishments are limited to 15% of disposable income, which is more liberal than either a child support garnishment or a 25% normal creditor garnishment. While the differences between student loan garnishments and normal garnishments are too vast to fully explain here, I leave you with a few important points.

First, under the Higher Education Act and the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996, most student loans can be garnished without a normal lawsuit, judgment and writ/court order. This is a big difference – there is little chance for you to go to court to contest entry of the judgment on your defaulted student loan collection. The student loan garnishment just starts unexpectedly out-of-the blue.

Second, the exemption on the garnishable portion of wages is more liberal with student loan garnishments than with "normal" creditor garnishments. With federal student loan garnishments, the exemption amount is thirty times the minimum wage so you only lose the LESSER amount by which your income exceeds 30 times the current minimum wage or 15%. For example, if you have weekly disposable pay of $300.00, then you definitely get to keep $217.50 (30 times the current minimum wage of $7.25/hour, $300 – $217.50 = $82.50), but you don’t have to pay $82.50 weekly BECAUSE you get a “bonus” – since 15% of $300 is only $45 (.15 x 300 = $45), you only are garnished $45 instead of $82.50. What a deal!

Third, a 15% student loan garnishment will not freeze out other creditors, so if the Department of Education or some student loan guarantee agency or its collector is garnishing 15%, then at the same time Ford Motor Credit shows up with a repo-ed vehicle deficiency judgment garnishment, then 15% goes to the Department of Education and 10% of your net wage goes to Ford Motor Credit, up to a total of 25% garnished from your net pay.

Fourth, while a bankruptcy will usually not eliminate student loans (but note that you can seek a “hardship” discharge of student loans while in bankruptcy) you can usually temporarily eliminate student loan garnishments while in a Chapter 13 plan.

Fifth, student loans are awful – student loans can even garnish (offset) your social security benefits when you are old and retired (and perhaps even when disabled) and living on a fixed income.

Sixth, Washington law is very unfriendly with defaulted student loans. Even though you are being garnished 15% for the defaulted student loan, you can still lose your job/occupation license if you owe defaulted student loans – your professional license may be revoked for defaulted and unpaid student loans in occupations including but not limited to the following jobs: lawyers, accountants, architects, auctioneers, cosmetologists, barbers , manicurists, boarding homes, contractors, embalmers, funeral directors, engineers, land surveyors, escrow agents, birthing centers, poison center directors, poison center specialists, real estate brokers, real estate salespersons, landscape architects, water well contractors, plumbers, health professionals, real estate appraisers, fire system sprinkler contractors, private investigators, security guards, and bail bond agents.