Are you seeking student loan help? Well, you're not alone. All over the US people like Jason Spencer Dallas are forced to seek alternative measures to pay off ridiculously high levels of debt.
In the U.S. alone, student loan debt totals more than a trillion dollars. Incredibly, the government owns about 85 percent of that debt, as a result of loans that are disbursed via government student loan programs. The amount of outstanding student debt held by the U.S. government increases by more than $100 billion each year.
Unfortunately, a large percentage of college graduates are seeking student loan help and student loan relief programs. The reason? Well, it's due in large part to the ailing economy and the hyper competitive job market, which makes it extremely difficult for many graduates to get a job that will enable them to survive and pay back their student loans.
Granted, studies still reveal that having a college degree places you in a better position in the job market, as the percentage of unemployed graduates is about half the rate that you'll see among adults who only have a high school diploma.
But once you factor student loans into the mix, the advantage becomes much less pronounced. Home ownership rates among college grads with student loans are much lower. The credit scores of those with student loans is actually decreasing with age, whereas those without the burden of student loans are seeing a dramatic increase in average credit score over time.
An analysis of the actual amount of money repaid each year has risen slightly in recent years, but a disturbing trend has been detected too. There is a rapidly rising differential between the amount of money that is actually repaid relative to the amount that is estimated to be repaid in a given year. In 2012 alone, the actual amount repaid fell short of the estimated prediction by about 30 percent.
With all these facts, it's probably no surprise that student loans have the highest delinquency rate among all common of consumer credit, a category which also includes auto loans, credit card debts and mortgages. And student loan delinquency isn't just growing among 20- and 30-somethings; it has risen significantly --- by more than 25 percent in 2012 alone --- in all age groups. The average is about 35% delinquency --- that means that 1 in 3 college graduates with student loan debt have been unable to make a payment in the past 90 days.
So it's no wonder there has been a rapid rise in the number of student loan relief programs and student loan forgiveness initiatives.
As many debtors have already discovered, federal student loans are like taxes in that they'll follow you to the grave. Bankruptcies won't do you any good; those student loan debts will follow you until you pay them.
But there is one exception that's available to those who work in a 'public service' profession. The U.S. government now offers a Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, also called the PSLF Program. This student loan forgiveness program enables those who work full-time in a public service field to apply for forgiveness of their debt from student loans that were taken out under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program. (Notably, Perkins Loans and other loans, such as the Federal Family Education Loan or 'FEEL' Program are not eligible for student loan forgiveness.) Individuals are eligible to apply for student loan forgiveness after they've made at least 120 payments.
Public service employees who are eligible for student loan forgiveness under the PSLF Program include teachers, nurses, social workers and other similar professions where the individual gives back to society, but often, earnings simply aren't sufficient to allow for a comfortable financial situation with the burden of student loans.
In rare cases, some or all of an individual's federal student loan debt may be discharged if an individual is unable to find a job related to their program of study and can prove extreme hardship, but this is typically a very rare event.
There are also a wide array of different student loan debt relief programs available to individuals who are struggling to pay their student loans.
Student loan consolidation is one common solution that's offered to graduates who have run into trouble and struggle to afford multiple student loan repayments. In this case, the graduate may opt to take out a loan that pays off multiple student loans, thereby decreasing the amount of interest that they're paying each month. This allows the graduate to make a single, lower monthly payment with only one interest payment instead of multiple interest payments.
Student loan consolidation aside, there are other student loan debt programs that work to negotiate with borrowers to reduce penalties and interest rates, when possible.
There are also a wide range of student loan relief programs, offered by private organizations and private employers. These relief programs typically work by supplementing a portion of each monthly payment, and this, in turn, reduces the individual's monthly payment burden. Many employers are offering loan assistance as a perk to recent college graduates.
These student loan relief programs can also be used in conjunction with student loan forgiveness programs too.
Student debt is a very serious problem, but there are some programs available to graduates who are struggling to make ends meet.
Jason Spencer Dallas
Student Loan Relief