So I have roughly $75k in federal student loan debt, that due to economic hardship, I am having difficulty paying. I got a call from one of these so called “Student loan help line” companies that told me that if I let them consolidate my loans that the max I would have to pay is 197 payments and that with my income being less than 16k I would qualify for $0 payment which would go towards the 197 payments. This seems a little unreal, as I don’t see the gov’t saying “sure free money”.
If this is true how do I go about doing this in a reputable way and not get scammed? I don’t want to file bankruptcy, as I have a secret clearance with the gov’t and it could really effect things.
Two important issues come to mind.
First, bankruptcy is not the killer of security clearances, too much debt is. If you are drowning in debt you become a bigger security risk from bribery. I would urge you to talk to your security officer confidentially to best understand the implications rather than assuming.
Second, there are income based programs available directly from the U.S. Department of Education and you don’t need to pay anyone to help you do that. Depending on your income the payments could be as little as $0 per month. But this is NOT free money. While you are on an income based repayment plan your balances will continue to grow. As you know, there is no free lunch and ultimately there will be a day to pay at some point.
To review your many federal student loan options, read The Ultimate Guide to Dealing With Student Loans You Can’t Afford
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