Q. How do you suggest dealing with student loans that you cannot yet pay because of lack of job or business profit?
A. If you can’t afford to pay your student loans due to a lack of income, get a deferment, forbearance or loan cancellation during periods of economic hardship.
Most people think only students who are enrolled in school can get deferments. Nothing could be further than the truth. Practically anyone with an economic hardship can qualify for a loan deferment or forbearance – and some people with severe, chronic financial problems may be eligible to get their loans canceled altogether.
Sallie Mae, the nation’s biggest student lender, offers deferments for nearly 20 different scenarios. Among those who can have their loan payments postponed are: the unemployed, new mothers re-entering the workforce, volunteers at non-profit agencies, military enlistees, and more. Even having excessive credit card debt or unusually high personal expenses can get your monthly student loan payment drastically lowered. If you’ve had a string of bad luck, say you went through a divorce, got laid off, then had a car accident — all of which impacted your finances, you can qualify.
Also, having a protracted hardship, such as a lengthy medical illness, the U.S. Department of Education may say it’s not worth it to make you pay off your loans – and they can cancel out your loan indebtedness.
Tip: To claim an economic hardship and ask for greatly reduced student loan repayments, fill out a simple 2-page form called a Statement of Financial Status. Find it online at the Department of Education’s website at http://www.ed.gov.
If you have private loans, you can also ask your lender or loan service company about deferment and forbearance options.