Can Private Student Loan Debt Be Settled And If So, How Do You Negotiate A Successful Settlement? Learn more about private student loan settlements
As a NACCC Certified Student Loan Counselor, NACCC Certified Credit Counselor, and a professional debt negotiator with over a decade of experience; I am well equipped to negotiate your private student loan settlements – and to make sure that the negotiated agreement is executed correctly.
I specialize in settling six figure balances, which require a more nuanced approach and strategy compared to normal balances; but I also help borrowers with private student loan settlements as low as $3,000. My average client has a balance between $30,000 – $50,000.
I have been able to negotiate private student loan settlements with the largest private lenders such as Navient, NCT, Wells Fargo, Keybank, and Sallie Mae; as well as with a variety of smaller or more obscure lenders.
I will make sure that your private student loan settlements is executed correctly, with proper credit reporting from the lender.
The execution and follow-up of the negotiated agreement is where people can get into real trouble when trying to settle on their own, or by hiring settlement companies that don’t specialize in private student loan settlements negotiation.
I never charge upfront fees – my charge is due at the time the negotiated agreement is executed.
My performance-based method gives me the incentive to save every last possible dollar for my clients.
Beware of debt negotiation companies that charge you a percentage of the total debt amount instead of the savings – not only does this mathematically come out to a much larger fee than mine as far as the dollar amount; it also means that they do not have an incentive to save you as much as possible and to go that extra mile to maximize the amount you can save.
Under their “percentage of the full balance” model, the fee is the same whether the reduced sum payoff is 40%, 50%, or 60% – they are still getting paid the same amount regardless of how low your negotiated agreement is.
For this reason, I view the “percentage of the total balance” fee model as inferior to my performance based “percentage of the savings” model.
How Do I Get Results?
Strategy and Tactics
My strategies and tactics have been honed over time – specific to certain lenders, as well as various situations at different points in the collection cycle.
For example, the approach to settle with a collection law firm is different than the approach with an internal collection department, even if the lender is the same.
Experience and Industry Knowledge
I’ve spent over a decade of my career negotiating with all different types of debt collectors, collection attorneys, collection supervisors, managers, directors, banking executives, Private student loan settlements and many others.
Thousands of difficult negotiation situations has given me an extensive negotiating “toolbox”, and a deep well of knowledge to rely on as far as lender behavior and reading between the lines during a negotiation.
Private student loan settlements can vary significantly in terms of collection cycles, legal tactics, and potential reduced sum payoff ranges employed by different lenders.
The student loan industry is not quite as vast as the credit card industry in terms of the agencies and lenders involved, so over time,For some of the Private Student Loan settlements that I handle, I end up negotiating with many of the same companies and collection agencies repeatedly.
I’ve known some of the managers, directors, and supervisors at various lenders and collection agencies for years.
I never forget that I work for only my clients and they work only for the lender, but there is mutual overlapping interest when it comes to negotiating an agreement.
These negotiating relationships play a big role in the results that I’m able to achieve.
Do I Need an Attorney for My Private Student Loan Settlements? Will I Get Sued?
When loan holders contact me with active lawsuits or a recent summons, I refer them to some of the top student loan attorneys in the country, many of whom I’m on a first name basis with.
However – you do not need to hire an attorney (and pay their upfront retainer fee) to handle your private student loan settlements unless you are faced with a legal situation such as being served with a summons, or a wage garnishment.
Negotiate Private Student Loan Settlement Payoff: How Do I Get Results?
I have never had a client get sued, and that is not by accident – my unique method minimizes risk while maximizing savings.
It’s easy to see a lawsuit coming from a mile away if you know what to look for, and in situations where it looks possible, we simply play defense (often in the form of a temporary repayment plan) to prevent legal action while continuing forward with student loan negotiation, aiming for a reduced sum payoff.
In some cases, I’ve even been able to leverage my negotiating relationships with lenders to have them pull an account from a collection law firm, and place it back with a non-legal collection department for the lender.
Keep in mind that student loan defense attorneys who help with debt settlements would be limiting themselves to a very small portion of the market if they only accepted potential clients who have active lawsuits, so they will make up reasons or sometimes use scare tactics about why you need legal representation for a settlement negotiation such as private student loan settlements that takes place outside of litigation.
It’s a business decision for them – one that results in signing on more clients than if they only signed on people who are facing active litigation – but is not based on any actual legal need for you to hire them for representation.
A student loan lawyer is not doing anything different than a non-attorney negotiator during the negotiating process unless you have an actual legal situation.
But, they are probably going to take full advantage of their exemption to the “no-upfront fee rule” by charging you an upfront retainer fee.
Don’t get me wrong – I love the student loan defense attorneys that I know and refer legal situations to them often.
You just don’t need to hire one unless you’ve been sued.
If you actually do have a summons to court or other issue that requires an attorney, I’ll help you find one, or refer you to one of the many accomplished student loan attorneys I’ve met in the industry.
I don’t take on legal situations or provide legal advice. If you’ve been served a summons, I can’t help you – there is a separate legal process that has to take place at that point along with any negotiation, and you need a skilled student loan attorney for that.
At any point prior to actually being summoned to court, I can usually negotiate an agreement.
Fortunately, legal action is usually a last resort for a lender and there are often many opportunities to settle prior to that happening.
Assignment to a collection law firm or collection agency is somewhat common, and by itself the assignment does not mean you have a legal situation.
I settle with these firms regularly.
The assignment to a collection law firm does usually mean that a lawsuit is imminent within several months or less if no agreement or repayment plan is worked out.
Therefore, it’s important to take immediate action if you get a letter or phone call from a collection law firm regarding a defaulted loan.
My Method vs. the Ineffective “Old School” Debt Relief Model
I make sure that you, as the loan holder or cosigner, are fully informed before signing on with me.
If pursuing loan settlement offers isn’t in your best interest, I won’t sign you up, and will instead recommend an alternative strategy. The same applies if you’re not in a position to afford a lump sum payment.
The main problem with the “old school”, sales-focused debt relief model that many companies use (and have used for decades) is that it results in signing on people who are NOT a good fit for student debt settlement.
The “old school” debt relief model involves saving up over years via monthly deposits with the hopes of eventually settling (usually sent directly to the debt settlement company, who takes part of each student loan payment for their fee) – and it does not work on large accounts, where the student loan lender can be legally aggressive within 6-12 months after default or less.
Larger private loan balances are impossible to settle with ongoing saving deposits from income and usually require some type of access to funds, assets, or any other money in the bank that has already been built up by the time of default.
You can use ongoing/future income to help fund a reduced sum payoff over time, but you’ll still need some funds on hand for the down payment at the time the agreement is executed.
I screen carefully and only accept those who are truly a good fit for my process. Being a good candidate requires, among other things, having the funding to lock in a lump sum or structured settlement shortly after default – minimizing the risk of legal action, while maximizing what you’re able to save.
Settling shortly after default, preferably with a lump sum, also results in credit scores going back up much faster than the inefficient, “old school” debt relief model.
That model, which drags on for years with accounts remaining in default and at risk of litigation, is also why debt settlement is associated with credit being permanently ruined. However, this is not the case when a negotiated agreement is done correctly.
What About My Credit?
- Most of my clients and their cosigners are back into a good numeric credit score range within 6-12 months after they’ve settled (if they have no other unresolved defaults)
- Student loan borrowers and cosigners will have greatly improved Debt to Income and Debt to Credit ratios after they’ve settled – the account is reported as a $0 balance to the credit bureaus. This can make a huge difference in DTI, especially for those with six figure balances. DTI is a common reason for being declined for a mortgage, refinance, and other lending products – even when the applicant has a great FICO score.
- Credit often increases significantly once the settlement notation is updated with the credit bureaus (especially for recent defaults), and continues to improve over time post-settlement with a proper credit building plan.
- As a Certified Credit Counselor since 2011, I’ve reviewed hundreds of credit reports and helped many clients improve their credit record. I include a copy of my comprehensive Credit Building Guide for each client post-settlement. Building new positive payment history after you’ve settled is crucial, and my Guide shows some innovative ways to do this.
There are so many misconceptions about debt settlement, but none more pervasive than the idea that it permanently destroys your credit. The “old school” debt relief companies I mentioned earlier are largely the reason for this idea.
Instead of an actual negotiator or a certified financial counselor, those who call these generic debt relief companies end up talking with a salesperson, and that salesperson has every incentive to sign them on as fast as possible.
Unfortunately, this has historically led to deceptive sales pitches that omit the very important fact that accounts MUST be in default before any lender has the incentive to enter negotiations for any significant reduction.
It’s not the negotiated agreement that hurts your credit – by the time it’s in default, the damage is already done, and the act of settling itself is actually the first step to rebuilding your credit.
The above screenshot is from an actual client – this is the post-default increase from the settlement notation and $0 balance being reported to their credit. No other credit building steps had been taken yet; this is only from the settlement itself being updated.
Results may vary and depend on each person’s credit profile. For example, if someone has multiple accounts in default, settling just one of them will not result in this kind of jump.
This account was the only defaulted account that my client had.
Generally, you will need to settle or pay off all defaulted debt to significantly improve your credit score.
The process of going into default, and missing monthly payments, along with the default notation itself; is what causes the credit damage.
Scores for both borrowers and cosigners can drop by 100-150 points or more from a current status, as they go late and build up months of missed payments. The default notation is the last credit hit – this is the point where the damage plateaus.
The good news is that this credit pain is only temporary, but it is unfortunately the “cost of admission” for the settlement ride.
No lender will settle when accounts are current and they are getting full payments plus interest, as that’s exactly what their business model is based on: you paying the original amount you borrowed several times over.
For the time to be ripe to negotiate a student loan payoff, the account has to become a defaulted “non-performing asset” for private lenders to gain the incentive to accept a reduced amount for a payoff.
Can You Strategically Default On Your Private Student Loan Settlements?
Of course, the credit drop I refer to above only applies to those who are current on their loans and are looking to strategically default.
For those who are already in default by the time they contact me, negotiating a reduced sum payoff will only increase their score after the account has defaulted – the credit damage has already been done at that point.
For those who are current, they must weigh whether the temporary (but significant) damage to their credit history is worth the monetary savings obtained via settlement.
If there’s a cosigner involved (which is the case for the majority of private student loans settlement concern are private) they need to be on board with this strategy as well, and understand how their credit will be affected, and when it will recover.
No counselor, debt relief company, or negotiator should ever instruct you to stop paying on your loans in order to settle. It’s a serious decision that only you should make, after being fully informed of the pros and cons and determining whether it is worth it for your financial situation and future goals.
People often ask me what I would do in their shoes, but I won’t answer that question – it’s just not my decision to make. My role is to provide you the objective information that you need to make a fully informed decision on whether to strategically default and settle.
If you decide to, I can walk you through every step of the way and ensure that there’s a successful settlement at the end. Many of my clients have chosen to pursue this route.
Get started by clicking the button below and request your online evaluation today!
Can You Consider Refinancing Your Debt from Private Student Loan Settlements?
Since most lenders will only begin to negotiate when the accounts are defaulted, those who have current private loan debt with a good credit profile may benefit from looking into refinance.
Be aware that a high Debt to Income ratio can prevent you from being approved for a refinance even if you have a good credit score – it’s actually the number one reason for declined applicants.
Refinance is the other main relief option for private loans besides settlement. You will still pay much more over time with a refinance than a settlement, but you won’t experience the temporary credit drop from a strategic default in order to settle.
If you are interested in refinancing your federal loans, please visit my federal student loan page for more information.
Refinance can be difficult to get approved for.
That industry has come a long way since it was known as an option just for “doctors and lawyers”, but you’ll still need to have good income, a good Debt to Income ratio, no accounts in default or delinquent, and possibly a cosigner.
For those who don’t qualify, or those that want to slash their balance by 50% or more instead of just lowering their interest rate, settlement is an option.
When It Comes To The Debt Industry: Caveat Emptor
The debt settlement industry has a bad reputation for a reason.
We’re prohibited from charging upfront fees, or any type of initial retainer (unlike almost all other service-based industries) for a reason.
The bad actors tend to make things harder for the good guys, although the tides seem to be shifting in that regard.
Companies that try to take out fees prior to settling your accounts are hedging their bets – they think they may not be good enough to negotiate a settlement for you, so they try to take out fees before any agreement has been reached.
There is a loophole in the no-upfront fee laws that allows companies to charge you upfront if there is an “in person sales presentation”, so beware of companies who want to send a notary or sales agent to meet you in person.
Despite the fact that upfront fees were outlawed in the TSR Amendments of 2010, many companies still try to collect fees before settlement in some way. Read the fine print of debt settlement company contracts carefully.
Law firms in a state outside of yours that contact you via inter-state telemarketing (inbound or outbound) are also subject to the “no upfront fee rule”.
“Debt Validation” companies have started popping up that claim that they, without actually representing you legally, can get your loans dismissed, canceled, forgiven, removed, etc. via different disputes under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and others.
They actually can’t. I’ve written extensively on this topic here about why these are false claims (although their salespeople sure make it sound good to folks who don’t know any better).
Unfortunately, by the time people realize that all the fancy and legalistic sounding disputes haven’t actually gotten their lenders to cancel their loans, they are years into default and have paid the company thousands in upfront and monthly fees.
These kinds of firms basically just try to wait out statutes of limitation while filing a bunch of frivolous complaints and disputes, and often try to use settlement as a backup (but they’ll never tell you that).
One client of mine who had hired one of these companies before finding me, had sent me a lot of the actual disputes and paperwork that the company had filed for them. This “debt validation” company had sent a lot of FDCPA Validation requests to Navient. The problem?
Navient is an original lender, and in the vast majority of states, they are not required to comply with FDCPA requests which are mainly applicable to just third party debt collectors.
The letters looked and sounded great to someone unfamiliar with the FDCPA – it’s just that Navient legally did not have to comply with them since they are an original lender.
If a company feels spammy, too sales focused, makes unrealistic promises, or is trying to rush you into signing a contract; pay attention to those warning signs.
Loan settlement is a serious decision, and you should take your time in deciding if it is the right path for you.
And no one can file a couple of disputes and get your private loan cancelled… if that was possible, trust me, I’d be doing that instead of taking all this time and effort to negotiate settlements!
Have you decided that you’d like to become one of my settlement success stories, and zero your private student loans out for good?
No matter what obstacles you think stand in the way of settling your loans, there are often solutions that you may not be aware of.
I’m very creative when it comes to strategizing a path to victory for my clients.
To get started, click here to fill out my evaluation form so that I can take a closer look at your situation, or call me directly at 937-503-4680.
The short answer is yes. Although very few experts have direct knowledge or experience in working with Heal loan borrowers, Heal loans can be settled! Read on to find out how and what to expect with a Heal loan settlement.
First, a little about Health Education Assistance Loans:
HEAL loan options were originally created for health professionals to further their education in medical school. These are a unique subset of federal student loans created in the late 70s and discontinued in the late 90s.
Because this program was created prior to the Department of Education, they are not as streamlined, even though the Department of Education eventually took it over. This type of student loan debt was created by private lenders and guaranteed by the federal government; so in this way they are similar to the FFELP program (which has also been discontinued).
Unlike FFELP federal loans though, Heal Loan accounts can be resolved for significant discounts. This is a process that is unknown for the vast majority of debt experts, and forget about the average collegiate debt relief company having any knowledge of this heal loan program whatsoever. These programs are not eligible for the normal Income-Driven repayment plans, and even though the Department of Education has taken over these accounts, they do not offer the same relief as they do for other federal student aid borrowers.
As an expert debt negotiator who has settled millions, I’ve talked to thousands and thousands of borrowers over the last decade. One of my most interesting conversations was with a doctor who had been able to settle for a vast discount – much, much lower than federal balances settle for and even lower than the normal range for private heal loan settlements (read on for the exact percentage of her settlement). This really piqued my interest at the time, and I began researching further about the Heal loan program.
Next, the bad news: HEAL accounts have indefinite statutes of limitation and collection
Although the program was discontinued, like all federally guaranteed debts, there are no statutes of limitation and the federal government will use aggressive collection tactics to try to collect over an indefinite period of time. The important thing to keep in mind is: this will be an ongoing problem during a medical professional’s career, and even during retirement. They simply do not go away.
What kind of collection activities can HEAL borrowers face?
- Assignment to a collection agency
- Lawsuit and judgment in federal court
- Offset of tax refund
- Prevention of Medicare acceptance at the medical professional’s practice
- Publication on the infamous HEAL student loan default list
So how do you resolve them and prevent further negative consequences?
Unless you’re actively facing litigation on these accounts, you don’t need a student loan attorney for settlement. What you do need is a world class student loan negotiator who has experience with a wide variety of settlement scenarios to help you negotiate for your private student loan settlement the lowest possible settlement, and to make sure the negotiated agreement is executed properly.
There are some types of accounts where it’s possible to try to settle on your own: a small credit card debt with a non-aggressive lender, a past due medical bill, etc. For large heal loan balances, there are high stakes significant consequences if the settlement isn’t executed properly – you need a professional. Along with saving you the time and effort involved, there’s simply no replacement for the level of expertise that a debt expert with millions in loan debt negotiation brings to the table.
It really evens the playing field and saves you the stress of negotiating with a debt collector – and for larger accounts, collection agencies make sure that their pros are the ones involved. A professional collection agent spends at least 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, honing their craft – often for years. Trying to go head to head with someone like that in your first major debt negotiation is a recipe for disaster. Even if debts are reduced enough, the follow-up is often where people get into trouble.
With these types of accounts, the execution followup would include removal from the Heal loan default list, and making sure that there are no further collection activities. If for some reason the debts are still reporting on credit, then it’s important to make sure that is notated correctly as well. However, this is unlikely because even though they have no statutes of limitation, credit reporting timelines dictate that accounts fall off reports after 7 years from the first missed payment.
Are there any other ways to get relief?
Unfortunately, there aren’t many available avenues for loan repayment assistance to really resolve a Heal loan default in it’s current form. Forbearances are generally unavailable, Income-Driven Plans aren’t either. Forget about Rehabilitation. HeaL loan accounts do not qualify for any type of student loan forgiveness or loan forgiveness programs. Bankruptcy is generally not possible and reported to be even more difficult than for normal federal loans, which are notorious for the difficulty of discharging in bankruptcy.
However, it can be possible to go through Direct Consolidation to be come eligible for all of the normal relief options that “normal” federal accounts have. By doing this, they fully converts to Direct Loans and you lose any chance of ever settling it for a fraction of the balance. It would re-report on your credit, and you would have to sign up for a repayment plan (once the pandemic forbearance is over).
Consider carefully before going through Direct Consolidation for a HEAL loan. Student loan settlement at a massive reduction is possible on these loans, and by going through Consolidation, it will make the entire balance plus late fees become the new actively reporting balance on your credit. There is no real chance of federal loan settlement on an account that’s brought current, so this permanently removes that option. For borrowers with smaller balances or those who can’t afford to settle, this could be a good option to get the account current and off the HEAL list and enter into normal student loan repayment.
How to decide: Settlement or Direct Consolidation?
For those with larger balances, evaluate whether you want to begin repaying on the full balance plus late fees instead of potentially reducing it by more than half the balance and moving on with your life. If a larger balance is currently not on your credit and is reported when brought current (which will happen), this can drastically affect your Debt to Income ratio and could have a negative impact on your credit as it will look like a new installment loan, with no previously reported credit history prior to when it is brought current.
However, this does open the door for normal federal loan relief options – and permanently eliminates the option of a drastically reduced balance. A careful evaluation of your current and future financial situation is a good idea when considering these two options. Federal loan settlements are generally only for accounts that have been in default for many years, with the reduction mainly being a removal of late fees and some interest that have accrued after default.
With HeaL loan accounts, the chance for a massive settlement could be a once in a lifetime opportunity.
If you can afford a lump sum payment, you can resolve the HeaL account for far less than the balance instead of creating a new burden by taking it out of default via Direct Consolidation. If you have the settlement money to fund the heal loan debt settlement, the savings are tremendous and unlike anything available for normal federal loan benefits.
I’m here to help:
As one of the top loan negotiators in the US, I will use all of the strategies, experience, relationships, and negotiating tactics that I have developed over a decade long career to settle for as low as possible. And if I’m not successful, you owe me nothing – that’s the beauty of performance based negotiation.
Remember in the beginning of this article when I said to read on to find out the exact percentage of the settled account for the doctor I spoke to?
It was 26%.
The fact that a settlement that low was possible (on a federal debt with no statutes of limitation) absolutely blew my mind.
Click here to request a free evaluation on whether settling your HEAL student loan default is the right move for you, or give me a call right now at 937-50