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To help student loan borrowers avoid scams, NerdWallet is rounding up information on legitimate organizations student loan borrowers can look to, like this one.
Organization: Student Borrower Protection Center.
Mission statement: Student Borrower Protection Center is a nonprofit advocacy organization fighting on behalf of struggling student loan borrowers with the aim of empowering policymakers and advocates to take action. It was founded by Seth Frotman, the former student loan ombudsman for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. SBPC doesn’t provide help or advice to individual student loan borrowers, but provides space for them to share their student loan stories.
Location: Washington, D.C.
Best contact method: Share your student debt story on SBPC’s website. Phone: 202-670-3871.
Twitter handle: @theSBPC.
Areas of expertise: All student loan types.
It can help with: Providing an opportunity for student loan borrowers to voice their stories via its website.
It cannot help with: Advice for individual student loan borrowers. Check out the list below for organizations or legal representatives that offer one-on-one help.
Cost to expect: None. SBPC does not provide advice to individuals.
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. Consider these vetted resources for student loan help; they are established organizations or legal representatives 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