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Student Loans

As of December 31, 2021, more than 1.3 million North Carolinians had student loan debt, totaling $48 billion.  One of Attorney General Josh Stein’s top priorities is protecting people’s hard-earned money and fighting for people who are investing in their education and their futures. This means cracking down on fraudulent student loan relief groups; investigating for-profit colleges that scam families, target veterans, and cheat consumers; and making sure that students are treated fairly in how they choose and pay for higher education.

Learn more below about how the Department of Justice is advocating for student loan borrowers.

Recent Student Loan Developments

To make sure North Carolinians have important information regarding recent student loan developments, please review the general information below.  To determine your next steps, review the resources below and contact your loan servicer or Federal Student Aid.

  1. Make sure your contact information is up to date with the office of Federal Student Aid and your loan servicer.  Note that your servicer may have changed during the payment pause.
  2. Learn more about one-time student loan debt cancellation (up to $20,000 in debt relief to Federal Pell Grant recipients and up to $10,000 in debt relief to non-Pell Grant recipients based on income).  Information from Federal Student Aid is available here.
  3. Check to see if you are eligible for a refund for voluntary payments made during the pandemic.  More information from Federal Student Aid is available here.
  4. Review your eligibility for Public Service Loan Forgiveness.  Learn more from Federal Student Aid.
  5. Stay up to date on plans for return to repayment, including the November 22 announcement that extended the payment pause.  More information about when return to repayment will begin is available here, and you can learn about how to prepare for return to repayment from Federal Student Aid here and here.
  6. Learn about changes to Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) plans.  More information from Federal Student Aid is available here.
  7. See if you are eligible for a Fresh Start, which is designed to help eligible borrowers in default.  More information from Federal Student Aid is available here.
  8. Beware of Scams and Alert our Office!There have been many developments on the student loan front, and these changes may bring confusion and uncertainty. Scammers thrive in those conditions, so borrowers should be alert.  These tips will help protect you from scams:
    1. Never provide personal information, including your Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID), over the phone or email.  Neither your student loan servicer nor the Department of Education will request this information over the phone or email. Note that emails to borrowers from the U.S. Department of Education come from noreply@studentaid.gov, noreply@debtrelief.studentaid.gov, or ed.gov@public.govdelivery.com.
    2. Reject offers from anyone who tries to pressure you to act fast or agree to a contract you have not had time to read and fully understand.  Legitimate companies do not use these techniques.
    3. Do not pay up-front or monthly fees for help with your loans – requiring payment before doing anything to assist you is a red flag.  Contact your federal loan servicer for free assistance.
    4. Beware of promises of immediate loan forgiveness or cancellation.  The Department of Education will need time to implement the new programs. For many government forgiveness programs, there are specific time requirements for payments and/or employment.  No company can help you speed up the process.
    5. If you cannot afford your student loan payments, work with your loan servicer or the Department of Education to modify your loans before using a debt relief company.  Almost all student loan debt relief companies keep your money as their fees.

    If you think you have been a victim of a scam, take the following steps immediately:

      1. Change your FSA password;
      2. Notify your student loan servicer;
      3. Contact your bank or credit card company to suspend payments to the purported company; and
      4. Alert the Attorney General’s office and file a complaint at ncdoj.gov/complaint or 1-877-5-NO-SCAM. You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and alert them that you have been scammed.

    You can find more information about student loan debt relief scams here and here.

Guidance for Student Loan Borrowers

Attorney General Stein wants North Carolinians to have the information needed to make good decisions about student loans, including the resources below.

  • Review our Student Loan Tips, including information for those considering loans and for current student loan borrowers.
  • Make sure your contact information is up to date with your loan servicer and at StudentAid.gov.
  • Use the federal government’s loan simulator tool to calculate your student loan payments, ensure you are on the best repayment plan and consider if loan consolidation is right for you.
  • Be on the lookout for student loan scams, and contact our office if you believe you may have been a victim of a scam.
  • If you have questions or concerns about your loans, contact your student loan servicer for free help.

Work to Protect Student Loan Borrowers

Attorney General Stein is committed to protecting North Carolina students and families, including the examples below.

Student Loan Servicers

Attorney General Stein held national student loan servicer Navient accountable for its unfair and deceptive servicing and predatory lending, securing secured $37 million in student loan relief for more than 13,000 NC borrowers. More information is available here.

For-Profit Colleges

The U.S. Department of Education recently announced it would discharge all remaining federal student loans for students who attended any college run by Corinthian Colleges. Students who attended a college run by Corinthian do not need to take any action to receive the benefit of this discharge. State attorneys general helped uncover widespread misconduct at the schools, which closed in 2015, and Attorney General Stein has been fighting for loan relief for Corinthian’s students.

Attorney General Stein advocated for students who attended national for-profit college chain ITT Educational Services, Inc. If you attended ITT, you have several options depending on when you attended and what types of loans you took out. More information is available here.

How to Contact the Department of Justice

If you believe you have been a victim of a predatory loan, scam or unfair and deceptive trade practice concerning a student loan, contact the Department of Justice at ncdoj.gov/complaint or call 1-877-5-NO-SCAM to file a complaint or the Federal Trade Commission at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

For more information on managing student loan debt: