I created this page as a resource for my fellow borrowers. I have federal student loans myself, and worked with several hundred federal loan borrowers on repayment strategy before I decided to work exclusively on private student loans.
On this page, you will find links, guides, Ebooks, and applications that will help you determine the best federal student loan repayment strategy for your specific situation. If you would like to work with a federal loan expert, you will find a contact form at the end of this page for referral to a trusted and legitimate federal student loan consultant.
Beware of “student debt relief” companies who try to sell you on “Obama Loan Forgiveness” (which doesn’t exist) or federal loan application preparation when they are not making it explicitly clear that these are applications you can do on your own, for free.
It’s one thing to hire a federal loan expert when you need assistance sorting through a complex student loan situation that you don’t want to tackle yourself; but it’s an entirely different thing to hire a company that is deceptively misrepresenting the nature of their assistance and the fact that all federal loan programs are free to apply for.
With a little research, you can find a solution to many of your federal loan problems right here on this page.
Start here with my free federal loan Ebook: especially if your federal student loans are in default. Don’t worry, it’s only 17 pages and you can skip through it to find the sections that apply to your scenario.
Next: not sure whether your student loans are private or federal, or if they are in default? Read my blog articles to find out:
Next – set up your FSA ID if you haven’t already. You will need this to login to www.studentloans.gov or www.nslds.ed.gov. Download my free guide for step by step instructions. If you’re a third party trying to do this for a borrower, beware that you risk prison time and fines for unauthorized access of this borrowers-only system.
After getting an exact readout of your federal student loans, it’s time to see which payment plan is the best for you. Keep in mind, for some types of loans (such as defaulted, or FFEL loans) you will need to go through Direct Consolidation before you can get on some of the payment plans. Click the link to go to the studentloans.gov Repayment Estimator:
Now that you know what programs and payment plans (including the newest repayment plan REPAYE) you want to apply for, you can visit studentloans.gov to apply online, or send the paper applications to your loan servicer. You can choose a new loan servicer through Direct Consolidation (if you qualify) – just fill out the applicable forms and send them to one of the four main loan servicers: Great Lakes, Nelnet, Fedloan Servicing, or Navient. My personal opinion is that Great Lakes and Nelnet are the best loan servicers.
If you’ve evaluated your federal loan repayment options and nothing seems to help significantly, you may be thinking of “outside refinance” which converts federal loans into private loans at a lower interest rate. To see if this is right for you, check out these links to some of the top refinance agencies – but first read what the CFPB has to say about refinancing federal loans in the private market here.
Are you interested in settling your defaulted federal loans? It isn’t easy, and reductions are usually minimal (unless you have discontinued federal HEAL loans).
However, if you have a lot of accrued interest and/or default fees, you may be able to get some of that reduced through settlement. Read more about settlement:
Even with these tools and applications, coming up with a student loan repayment strategy can be difficult and intimidating. There can still be problems despite filling out and sending applications correctly (my own IBR form and financial documentation was “lost” by the Dept. of Ed. the first time I sent it). Keep in mind that you can call your loan servicer or the Department of Education for free assistance. If you’re in default, you can theoretically call the debt collector assigned to your account for assistance (although in my experience they will not explain all of the options you have to get out of default, like Direct Consolidation).
If you would like to speak with an expert who has many years of experience helping student loan borrowers, you can contact me for a referral to a legitimate third party federal student loan consultant, counselor, or nonprofit agency (not a deceptive “student debt relief” company).
DISCLAIMER: I do not have any relationship with the Department of Education or any government entity. Forms and links on this page are publicly and freely available and I have linked to them or uploaded them as a free resource only. Nothing on this page constitutes a direct offer/guarantee of financial counseling or the initiation of a client relationship with Andrew Weber Certified Credit Counselor.