If you have student loans, you have something in common with 42 percent of adults who have attended college.
The cost of attending college has been increasing by two to three times the national inflation rate in recent years, and both students and their families struggle to find a way to afford these higher costs. As a result, more people are turning to both federal and private student loans for help.
Americans now owe over $1.5 trillion in student loan debt. The average college student graduates with over $28,000 in student loan debt. It also not surprising that about 20% of borrowers are behind on their student loan payments.
The good news is that if you are one of the people struggling with figuring out their student loans, there are many good sources of free help.
On this page:
- Student Loan Help for Filling Out Applications
- Student Loan Help for Servicer Issues
- Student Loan Help for Repayment Issues
- Student Loan Help for Refinancing or Consolidation Debt
- Student Loan Help for Finding Forgiveness Opportunities
- Student Loan Help for Lowering Payments
- Student Loan Help for Income-Driven Repayment Plans
- Student Loan Counseling
Free Student Loan Resources for Student Loan Applications
- U.S. Department of Education (https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/types/loans) – An extensive source of information about financial aid and applying for federal student loans
- High School Guidance Counselor – If you are still in high school, consider talking to someone in your high school’s guidance office about your loan application questions.
- College/University Financial Aid Office – If you have already been admitted to college or are currently a college student, the financial aid office can be a great resource for questions about loan applications and requirements.
Free Student Loan Help for Servicer Issues
Your student loan servicer is the company that receives and processes your monthly student loan payment. Student loan servicers are under the watch of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), a U.S. federal government agency responsible for consumer protection in the financial sector.
A recent report from the CFPB found that student loan servicers had routinely made errors and provided misinformation, such as failing to refund charges that were wrongly imposed on borrowers, even after being made aware of the errors. This behavior resulted in borrowers paying late fees and additional interest for problems that were not theirs in the first place.
If you have a problem with your student loan servicer, you should contact them first to solve the problem. If they do not resolve the problem, you can file a complaint with the CFPB.
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Complaints (https://www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint) – They contact the student loan servicer about the complaint and typically get a response within 15 days.
Free Student Loan Repayment Help
- Your Student Loan Servicer – Contacting your student loan servicer should always be your first call if you need help repaying your loans. They might be able to change your repayment plan or provide some temporary assistance in the event of extreme financial hardship.
- National Foundation for Credit Counseling (https://www.studentloanhelp.org/repayment-assistance) – The NFCC has a website specifically dealing with issues related to student loan debt, and they have an extensive list of possible repayment options. Their website is a helpful, free source of information. If you need more help, you can also contact one of their credit counselors and pay for a consultation.
>> Read More: Repayment options if you need private student loan help
Refinancing or Consolidating Student Loans
- U.S. Department of Education (https://studentaid.gov/app/launchConsolidation.action) – If you have federal student loans, the federal government has a special consolidation program just for those loans. Their website provides extensive information about federal student loan consolidation and the application process.
- LendEDU’s Best Companies to Refinance and Consolidate Your Student Loans – Find some of the best lenders for refinancing and consolidating private or federal student loans. All of these lenders provide information about loan refinancing on their websites, and you can contact them directly with any specific questions.
>> Read More: How to consolidate student loans
Student Loan Forgiveness
- U.S. Department of Education (https://studentaid.gov/manage-loans/forgiveness-cancellation) – The U.S. Department of Education contains information about loan forgiveness and government loan forgiveness programs.
- LendEDU’s Student Loan Forgiveness Guide – See and learn about the many student loan forgiveness programs out there.
Lowering Student Loan Payments
- Your Student Loan Servicer – Contacting your student loan servicer should always be your first call if you need to lower your payments. You may be able to arrange for a different repayment option.
- Consult a Lender About Refinancing – Look at the list of the best companies for student loan consolidation and refinancing. You may be able to lower your monthly payments by refinancing your student loans at a lower interest rate or with a longer maturity.
- LendEDU’s How to Lower Student Loan Payments Guide – Check out our guide on how to lower student loan payments to find out what options you may have.
- IBR Help (http://www.ibrinfo.org/index.php) – This website was created as part of the Project on Student Debt, which is part of The Institute for College Access & Success. The goals of this nonprofit organization are to provide information to college students about income-driven repayment options and Public Service Loan Forgiveness programs.
- LendEDU’s Income-Driven Repayment Guide – Check out out guide on income-driven repayment plans to find out more about your plan and what options you have with repayment.
Student Loan Counseling
- American Student Assistance (https://www.asa.org) – ASA is a nonprofit organization with a mission to help students and families discover educational and career opportunities. Student loan counseling is one of the many services they provide.
- LendEDU’s Student Loan Counseling Guide – Learn about student loan counseling and when it is required.
Counselors can provide advice about how much to borrow, types of loans, choosing a repayment plan, communicating with your student loan servicer, student loan paperwork, and looking for solutions when you cannot make your monthly student loan payments. You can contact a counselor by phone, email, or online chat service.