The new economic reality places a higher premium than ever on high-school diplomas and undergraduate degrees. For that reason, Veterans are exploring educational opportunities, and not merely traditional community college or four-year institutions. Increasingly, Veterans are looking for education programs which provide hard, immediately useful skills.
To assist Veterans, the Federal government offers an array of programs for active-duty military and Veterans, including the Post-9/11 GI Bill. States also provide assistance, with Texas offering generous support through plans such as the Hazlewood Act. Despite the many state and Federal education options available, a large number of Veterans still have to rely on private student loans. Given the tough job market, even degrees and trade skills do not translate to liveable salaries the way they once did. This means a large number of Veterans have education-related debts, particularly loans, they simply can’t pay.
Unfortunately, qualifying for any type of loan forgiveness is difficult. If you need help understanding the various types of loan-forgiveness programs available to Veterans, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) may be able to assist. Of course, once you understand your options, pursuing them is a whole different ballgame. That’s where paperwork alone can wear you down. It’s discouraging. But, before you give up, the following are steps you can take right now to make sure you have some facts about your education-loan situation.
Disabled Veterans: Check your credit report
There are three credit-reporting companies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You can get one free annual credit report from EACH of these three companies. For this reason, many experts recommend you space out your credit-report requests over the year, to avoid ever having to pay for an overall copy of your credit report. For example, on January 1st you could request your Equifax report. On May 1st, you could request your Experian report. And on September 1st, you could request your TransUnion report.
This www.AnnualCreditReport.com site does not give you your credit score for free, just the overall report. Your credit score is the number creditors use to summarize the information in your credit report. The most popular scoring system is called “FICO,” after Fair, Isaac, and Company (“FICO”) which developed it in 1989. You will have to pay if you want that number, which runs from 300 (low = “poor” credit) to 850 (high = “good” credit).
Even if you aren’t planning on buying anything big like a car or house, it is really important to check your credit report regularly. Why? Identity theft is an obvious reason. But, for Veterans – and particularly disabled Veterans who have received loan-forgiveness based on a service-connected disability – it’s very important that your credit report show that you no longer owe the education loan. For some reason, lenders have a really difficult time getting this right. Other types of disability discharge are listed as “assigned to government” for monitoring. But loan forgiveness based on VA documentation of your service-connected disability means the loan is finished. Done. And your credit report needs to accurately state this fact.
Veterans with Older Loans from a Bank
If you have paid off a private loan which was guaranteed by the Federal government, the bank or other private lender should have updated your credit report. Since it can take years to make a dent in student loans, there are millions of borrowers still repaying federally guaranteed, private-sector education loans. If you have paid off this type of loan, make sure to check your credit report regularly. Rules regarding disability discharge changed in 2013 and you want to make sure you are not the victim of someone else’s mistake.
If something doesn’t seem right, contact the credit reporting company and dispute the error.
Understanding how discharged loans show up on your credit report can be complicated. If you file a dispute and it still doesn’t get corrected, you can submit a complaint to the CFPB which will work to get you a response from the company. You can call the CFPB at (855) 411-2372 or submit a complaint online.
How an Attorney Can Assist You
Although legal assistance is not free, depending on the issues at stake – including impact on your credit rating and possible relief from the burden of outstanding debt – working with a legal professional to untangle your educational-loan situation may be an investment in peace of mind and actual debt reduction or relief.
Veterans: if you have significant outstanding education loans and are experiencing difficulties with understanding your repayment options, including potential loan forgiveness, contact the Law Office of Robert B. Goss, P.C. today.
Are you struggling with a benefits request to VA? You are not alone. By taking prompt, early action to protect yourself, you are in the best position to maintain or improve your benefits situation. DON’T WAIT. Contact the Law Office of Robert B. Goss, P.C. today for your FREE consultation.