Student debt is a large problem that isn’t going away anytime soon. The average borrower owes over $30,000, struggles to make payments, and is desperate to find a way to decrease their student loan debt. This need has been met with the emergence of loan consolidation and forgiveness companies nationwide. With any company whose goal is to reduce or dissolve debt comes a range of misrepresentations and scams. There are programs described that don’t exist, free government programs claimed as a company’s own idea, and a large pool of inaccurate information regarding student loans. Don’t be discouraged – there are legitimate companies that are truly looking to help eligible borrowers enroll in the most advantageous repayment or forgiveness program possible, if one knows where to look.

RESEARCH THE DIFFERENT STUDENT LOAN FORGIVENESS PROGRAMS

The best piece of advice when looking for help in consolidating and paying off your student loans is to do your homework. Don’t go into this blind. Find out exactly what types of loans you have. Look into the different government programs that are available to help reduce or forgive debt. There are multiple options, from public service loan forgiveness to teacher loan forgiveness, to income-based repayment plans and repayment plans based on your loan balance. The fact is, loan services are not properly educating borrowers. If they were, loan forgiveness and consolidation companies wouldn’t be necessary and scam companies wouldn’t be able to so easily take advantage of those looking for help.

CONDUCT BACKGROUND CHECKS OF THE VARIOUS COMPANIES

Before you hand over your credit card, research the company you are working with. Have they been deemed an accredited business by the BBB? Have past customers reviewed them? Are you paying for something you could do yourself for free or are they offering a service? Student Debt USA’s biggest priority is client satisfaction- just read some of their reviews on the BBB, Google Reviews, and Verified Reviews -to see what I mean. There’s a reason why they have five out of five stars on Google Reviews – because they’re committed to making sure every client is receiving the best possible customer service. They’re also a member of the Association for Student Loan Relief, which is an organization comprised of student loan consolidation companies that have demonstrated honesty and transparency.

CHOOSE THE BEST QUALIFIED COMPANY

I like to think about it like this: Why do we go out to eat at restaurants? Most of us could just as easily stay at home and cook ourselves, but it’s enjoyable to have someone who is passionate and knowledgeable cook you a fantastic meal. Most likely you wouldn’t go to a restaurant that receives terrible reviews and has unskilled cooks. The same goes for student loan consolidation and forgiveness companies. The fact is, you can do it yourself. You can spend hours researching different forgiveness opportunities and enrolling in government programs. You can make monthly payments to each separate lender. But it’s nowhere near as easy and efficient as working with a company that is knowledgeable about the available programs and will make your individual circumstance their priority. An honest and qualified company will have responsive and personalized customer service. If they charge money upfront, it should be extremely clear what you are paying for. They will talk you through the process step by step. All of your loans and paperwork should be processed for you and you should be enrolled in the best program you qualify for, based on your income, family size, and line of work. It’s important to remember that unless you have a federally qualifying reason, student loan debt must be repaid. If a company is promising to completely eliminate your student loans instantly, it is probably too good to be true.

When it comes down to choosing a company to work with, knowledge is power. The bad news is that there are companies that are looking to take advantage of borrowers, and failing to separate truth from fiction can be a costly mistake. But the good news is that there are programs to help grads reduce their student loans and honest companies looking to help. You just have to pick the right one.

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