Student Loans

What Options Does My Sister Have to Repay Her Unaffordable NJCLASS Loans With HESAA?

Written by Steve Rhode

Question:

Dear Steve,

My sister is behind on a 27,000 NJ Class (HESAA) loan and she (along with my parents who are on a fixed income) have received court summonses. She is an EMT and works for two companies but her hours were just slashed at both jobs. She has her firefighter certification but is looking into a new career field with more stability.

What will happen to her at court? Will she have a chance to propose a manageable monthly repayment amount? I believe she was already given one deferment so is there any other way to get help?

Danni

Answer:

Dear Danni,

NJCLASS loans suck. They are among the least forgiving, least accommodating, and least friendly groups out there.

According to Higher Education Student Assistance Authority website, they will be so accommodating to allow you to put your loans in forbearance if facing a financial hardship. You can see the relief options here. – Source

Their version of forbearance means they still expect you to make the interest portion of your loan payment while experiencing a financial hardship. They also say, ” My NJCLASS loans can only be fully deferred for all payments during this relief if my original repayment option required no payments during my in‐school enrollment period and there are extenuating circumstances.” – Source

The New Jersey State Legislature had been pushing HESAA to make available loan options for those in trouble. While it was said NJCLASS loans would be eligible for some sort of temporary income-driven-repayment option but that appears to have gone nowhere for most people.

According to HESAA, only new loans in the 2017-2018 period would be available for payments based on income.

HESAA said, “HESAA’s Board approved a new Repayment Assistance Program (RAP). To better assist families who experience a financial hardship for a period of time during the term of their loans, HESAA is initiating RAP for NJCLASS borrowers effective with loans for academic year 2017-2018.

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RAP is unlike other deferment and forbearance programs because it offers the borrowers true debt relief. During the RAP enrollment period, all payments received are applied 100% to the principal and interest will be paid by HESAA. The RAP monthly payments are determined based on 10% of the disposable income of all parties on the loan. At the end of the RAP period, the regular monthly payment amount is recalculated based on the remaining term and principal balance of the loan. This program will be subject to the availability of funds, which will be limited for each academic year.” – Source

The Judge can only make a decision based on the law. This means he will probably look at the loan agreement and make a decision based on the agreement and New Jersey law.

If possible, you should talk to an attorney with student loan experience in New Jersey. Here is one place to look for such an attorney.

If your parents are obligated on the loan but on a fixed income, they may want to contact the nonprofit law firm HELPS who can run interference with the lender.

According to Eric Olsen, the Executive Director of the firm, “twice the amount of social security electronically deposited into a bank account is protected from garnishment under federal banking regulations, no matter the source of the funds in the account at the time of a garnishment. So, if you receive $1000 each month in SS, then $2000 is protected automatically no matter where the money came from, including private disability, that is in the bank at the time of the garnishment. So if you keep the checking balance below that number, any garnishment would be disregarded by the bank.”

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About the author

Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.

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