There are many companies out there that will contact students with student loan debt promising to help them reduce their monthly payments or cancel loans all together. While these offers seem enticing, using an outside company to assist you with debt relief is not the wisest decision. First, some of these companies could be scams. They may just be after your personal identification information (PII), such as Social Security number, birth date, and full name, or they may be legitimate, but will charge you for these services.
The best option for someone struggling to pay back his or her student loans is to contact the Department of Education or go directly to the loan servicer. According to the U.S. Department of Education (2015), they provide free assistance to students to help lower or cap monthly loan payments, consolidate federal loans, see if you qualify for loan forgiveness, and get advice on getting out of default. Contrary to popular belief, loan servicers and Department of Education representatives will do everything in their power to help you pay back your loans in a way that is easier for a struggling student.
There are some legitimate companies that provide debt relief assistance for free. American Public University works with ECMC Solutions to aid students who have fallen into delinquency. If you are currently an APU student (or former student) and are struggling with loan repayment, please take advantage of ECMC by contacting them.
Remember, missing payments on your student loans have serious financial consequences. There is free help out there for students who are struggling with their loan debt. Instead of responding to a too-good-to-be-true email or letter from a debt relief company, contact your loan servicer, the Department of Education, or a trusted company such as ECMC to help you get your student loan debt under control.