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To help student loan borrowers avoid scams, NerdWallet is rounding up information on legitimate sources of help, like this one.
Organization: National Consumer Law Center’s Student Loan Borrower Assistance Project.
Mission statement: The National Consumer Law Center is an American nonprofit organization specializing in consumer issues on behalf of low-income people. The NCLC’s Student Loan Borrower Assistance Project is an informational resource for borrowers, their families and advocates representing student loan borrowers. It does not provide legal advice to individuals.
Location: Boston, Massachusetts.
Best contact method: NCLC provides information only via its website. See below.
Business hours: NCLC provides information only via its website. See below.
Twitter handle: @NCLC4consumers.
Areas of expertise: All student loan types.
It can help with: Providing information and legal resources for student loan borrowers and consumers through its comprehensive website.
It cannot help with: Providing legal advice. It suggests these resources instead.
It is funded by: Private foundations, corporate sponsors and individuals.
Cost to expect: None. Provides information only.
Policy on acting on the borrower’s behalf: NCLC does not provide legal advice or act on a borrower’s behalf.
If you need student loan help
If you’re struggling with your student loan debt, first speak with your servicer or lender to:
Discuss repayment options.
Take a temporary payment pause.
Temporarily reduce your monthly payments.
If your problem is with your lender or servicer or you’re not getting the help you need, look for a legitimate student loan help organization that offers counseling. In addition to NCLC, consider these other vetted resources for student loan help; they are established organizations with verified histories:
Student loan help resource
Advice on repayment plans, forgiveness programs and dispute resolution.
Comprehensive information on options for student loan borrowers.
Advocacy on behalf of all borrowers to influence policy.
Complete financial review for struggling borrowers, which can include advice on student loan options and plans for dealing with other debt.
Advice on repayment plans, help with paperwork and budget counseling.
Information for student loan borrowers and an attorney directory.
Help for borrowers who have already filed bankruptcy that did not include their student loans.
Advice on defaults, dispute resolution, collections, debt settlement and legal remedies. Licensed in Massachusetts and New York.
Advice on debt settlement, bankruptcy, default and forgiveness. Licensed in Missouri and Illinois.
Many of these organizations offer advice for free. In some cases, you may need to pay a fee, as with a certified nonprofit credit counseling agency or if you hire an attorney.
None of the organizations above calls, texts or emails borrowers with offers of debt resolution.
Offers of help that you have not sought out are likely to be scams. While it’s not illegal for companies to charge for services such as consolidation or enrollment in a payment plan, those are steps you can do yourself for free.
Avoid any debt relief companies that demand money upfront.
» MORE: How to spot student loan scams