42. Adam Minsky, Esq. | Student Loan Lawyer & Senior Contributor at Forbes
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About This Episode

Adam S. Minsky is one of the nation’s leading authorities on student loan law and is a pioneer in his field. He established the first law firm in Massachusetts devoted entirely to helping student loan borrowers, and is also licensed in New York. He remains one of the only attorneys in the country with a practice focused exclusively in this field of law. Attorney Minsky is a senior contributor to Forbes, and he has published numerous books and articles on student debt and regularly speaks at colleges, nonprofit organizations, and professional associations about developments in student loan law and higher education financing. Major media outlets frequently seek his analysis on national news and policy stories.

Attorney Minsky founded this practice because he took out student loans to help finance his own education, but when he encountered a serious problem with one of his student loan servicers, he couldn’t find anyone to help him. He established this firm shortly thereafter to help other borrowers who feel alone and overwhelmed by a student debt issue, and he has since helped hundreds of clients work through major problems with their student loans.

THIS EPISODE COVERS:

  • Knowing your student loan rights;
  • when you do or don’t need to call an attorney to help with your student loans;
  • why student loans are so hard to discharge during bankruptcy;
  • President Biden’s extension of student loan relief; and
  • much much more.

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Adam Minsky, Esq. (00:00): Should trigger some, some red flags, you know, saying that there's some sort of Biden, loan forgiveness, or something like that. For every president that has been in office, since I've been doing this work, they just change out the name of the president. So there was Obama loan forgiveness, and then there was Trump loan forgiveness, and now there's Biden loan, forgiveness, you know, that's, there's no such thing. So you know, so if, if it sounds too good to be true, it might be

The Student Loan Podcast Intro (00:27): Welcome to the student loan podcast. Here. You'll find practical advice on tackling student loan debt, paying down your higher education expenses and inspiring stories about paying off student loans. We're your hosts, Daphne Vanessa Rodriguez.

Shamil Rodriguez (00:46): Last week we had Dr. Ijeoma Kola on the podcast to discuss how she graduated with four Ivy league degrees. Yes. You heard that correct for Ivy degrees without taking on any student loan debt. We also went into how she is actively leading the charge of incorporating and supporting more black women in academia through her nonprofit Cohort Sistas. So for more information on that podcast episode, visit the student loan podcast.com for session, episode 41. Before we begin, we have a message from a very special VIP and fish. This is not professional advice, and we speak from our own personal

Shamil Rodriguez (01:30): Views and opinions. Okay.

Daphné Vanessa (01:31): The student loan podcast is brought to you by start new, where you can serve your community and get rewarded with tuition and student loan payments to check out of start new is on your campus. Visit start new.com.

Shamil Rodriguez (01:46): Welcome to another episode of the suit alone podcast. We have a very special guest for you today. Mr. Adam Minsky is coming to you and is going to be sharing a bit about himself, but also going into some recent news as he is a writer for forbes.com, but he actually has his own practice protecting through alarm student loan borrowers like yourself. So Adam, without further ado, let's turn it over to you.

Adam Minsky, Esq. (02:12): Alright, thanks so much for having me. I appreciate it. So yeah I have a student loan practice. I'm a solo practicing attorney based here in Boston, Massachusetts been doing this for a little over 10 years. At this point, I got started doing this because, you know, frankly, I graduated law school with with some student loan debt and had an issue with my servicer that I couldn't figure out a solution for try to get someone to to help and to, to guide me. And it turns out that there wasn't anyone that I could find who could do that. So I had to figure it out on my own, but in the course of that, I, I learned a bit and I saw that there was a need for professional assistance for folks who, who have student loan debt.

Adam Minsky, Esq. (02:57): I had graduated with a bunch of friends, colleagues, and classmates who also had student loans. It was the tail end of the last recession. So the job market wasn't great and a lot of folks are struggling. So I started a practice and 10 years later, this is what I'm doing. But at this point I would say that my practice falls largely into three very rough categories. Part of my practice is devoted to helping folks navigate what is, unfortunately, as, as many people know a very complicated system, the lot of problems and pitfalls. So I help folks understand their legal rights, their options guide people through disputes and help people you know, manage their loans in, in, in, in a particularly volatile time. I also help folks who are you know, dealing with some sort of a larger issue such as erroneous credit reporting, folks who have been denied a loan forgiveness program, people who are disabled and are unable to pay their student loans anymore, are dealing with a major life change. And then I also help folks who are in some sort of a big trouble. Maybe they fell behind on their payments. They're in default, they're in collections and I help people navigate that and hopefully our resolve that and get back to a good place. Again, that's my practice. No, I

Daphné Vanessa (04:17): Think a lot, not a lot of people know that that's even an option, right. When you are faced with challenges with your servicer or any other aspect of student loan repayment, that there are options out there for advocacy. So thank you for sharing your story about how you got involved in that. Yeah,

Adam Minsky, Esq. (04:35): Of course. And, and you're right. I mean, unfortunately I think a lot of people don't realize that there are resources out there, certainly in the time that I've been doing this work there have thankfully been more and more opportunities for people to get that type of help that they need. So so that's a good thing.

Daphné Vanessa (04:51): I agree. It really is. So you've written some guidebooks for people, right on how to navigate student loans. What got you to the point where you could author an entire book on helping navigate people through the practice?

Adam Minsky, Esq. (05:08): Well, I started my practice with a blog actually. And so writing has always been a huge part of what I do. I blogged in part because it was a way for me to learn information. It was also a way for me to relay information to people, especially breaking news or other new developments. So writing came you know, pretty naturally to me and has been a part of my work now for the entire time I've been doing this. So it just seemed like the next step to turn that into into a book. And so at this point I have a few books. One is just sort of an overview of the student loan system, student loan debt. One-On-One the other is geared more towards parents and co-signers who often have a more unique circumstances more specific types of quirks and issues with their own student loans. But I also wrote a book for the American bar association that focused specifically on attorneys and how to manage their own student loans, depending on what, you know, what folks choose to do with their career. And of course now I'm a senior contributor to Forbes as well, where I, I routinely read articles about recent developments breaking news on the, in the student loan space.

Daphné Vanessa (06:25): So you were most definitely on law review or do you just enjoy writing?

Shamil Rodriguez (06:31): I

Adam Minsky, Esq. (06:31): Didn't, I didn't do law review, but you know, I have always enjoyed writing in college. I was philosophy major and you know, writing was was a big part of of, of, of, of the work I did in college. So yeah, I mean, it's just always been something that has that has interested me.

Daphné Vanessa (06:48): Cool. And what about your own student loan journey? You said you sort of mentioned it right, that you experienced some issues with your servicer. Talk through us about your relationship with the student loan system and any, any sort of successes that you've overcome.

Adam Minsky, Esq. (07:05): Well, I mean, you know, just having student loan debt, you know, myself coming out of law school, I certainly was a factor in me starting a practice. You know, I was able to see how, you know, servicers give, you know, five different answers for you know, if you speak to five different people you'll hear one thing when you call in you'll hear something else if you call in you know, on another day early on in my practice you know, I would blog about some of my own experiences with student loan debt and, you know, just kind of show, you know, I know what, you know, you folks are going through because I'm experiencing it myself. So that, that was a big part of it. And certainly puts me in those early years, it really put me in a unique spot to be able, I think, to, to understand you know, what clients were going through and advocate for them. You know, and I've, I've just, you know, continued to do that as the practice has has grown

Shamil Rodriguez (08:01): And automatic quick question here on, on that front. I know you had mentioned there were like three separate areas of practice that really kind of maintain your focus at the firm. So would you mind just sharing some, I guess, pro tips as we're on that before we get into some of the articles, I just feel like it's such a, a great way for people to know, like, Hey, if you're in this situation, you know, you should reach out. You know, I think those are, those are those types of things where a lot of times people just suffer in silence or don't know what to do. I mean, I've, unfortunately I've met folks and spoken to people that literally just don't know what to do. And so they just don't answer the phone or they just go over them. And I feel like that's something that we have to try to get people away from. So what would you recommend on that front?

Adam Minsky, Esq. (08:46): Well, I mean, the first thing I'll say is that, you know, in many cases, you know, and this may seem counterintuitive to, you know, meet me talking about my practice, but you, you, you don't need to have an attorney you know, help you with, with, with, with most types of student loan matters. There's free information out there. And, you know, in theory your student loan servicers should be there to help help you navigate things. But you know, if you, if you feel like you're, you're running up against the wall, or you feel like you have been wronged, or, you know, you, you really are being given misinformation or you're dealing with a real dispute or you're in some sort of trouble, you know, including default in collections at which point a whole bunch of consumer protection rights, often kick in, you know, depending on the specifics and what state you live in.

Adam Minsky, Esq. (09:37): You know, that's certainly not a bad time to think about reaching out to an attorney. You know, I, I sort of liken it to some extent to taxes, you know I, you know, I, I hire an accountant to help me with my taxes because you know, it is it's complicated. There's a lot of things that I don't know that I don't know. And I think getting some, some professional assistance is, is, is worth it. Some people do their own taxes, right. So I think that it really comes down to a person's individual circumstances and what they need but there are resources out there, you know, I think folks should, should be aware of that.

Shamil Rodriguez (10:15): I think that's fantastic. And I think that consumer protection law, or just knowing what your rights are, is one of those important areas that maybe we can take a deep dive into another episode one day on that specific area, but is there anything on a, on a surface level that people should know like, Hey, if this happens, this should trigger a red flag for me as a consumer, as a student loan borrower to say, Hey, you know what, I do have some rights in this area. Well, certainly,

Adam Minsky, Esq. (10:40): You know, if you if you see erroneous information being reported on your credit report, you know, if, you know, you made a payment on time, but it's showing up as late. If you see, you know, some loan on there that isn't yours and that's a huge red flag, and that triggers a whole bunch of of legal rights and possible procedures to remedy that. If you're in collections and you're being hounded by a debt collection agency, or your family members are being contacted, or your employer is being called again, it varies a little bit by state, but that could be a significant red flag that you'll want to explore. And certainly if you're being sued by a student loan lender in court that's a really good time to reach out to an attorney because, you know, the court rules can be complicated and, you know, you don't need to have an attorney in court, but it certainly can help a lot.

Shamil Rodriguez (11:26): Absolutely. and I think this is a, probably a good transition to one of the articles that you recently wrote about in recent news in terms of oftentimes there used to be the joke that no matter what you, you bankruptcy couldn't save you from your student loans. Right. and so would you mind sharing with the audience, some of the recent news that you covered and wrote about about some recently proposed legislation?

Adam Minsky, Esq. (11:53): Yeah, so, I mean, the general rule is that it's not impossible to discharge student debt and bankruptcy, but it is very difficult. Student debt is treated differently from other forms of consumer debt in the bankruptcy process. So normally what happens is, you know, if you file for bankruptcy, you know, I'm going to simplify things a little bit, but basically you list out all your debts on some paperwork, you go through the bankruptcy process, which depending on what chapter you're filing could involve you know, some different procedures. And then once the bankruptcy process has ended that that's listed on, you know, the paperwork effectively gets discharged. Again, that's an oversimplification, but that's generally, you know, how it works in a, in, in a nutshell, student debt is treated differently, low. You don't just get to discharge it at the end of the bankruptcy. You have to prove what's called undue hardship, which is a very difficult standard to meet in part, because it hasn't been defined by the bankruptcy code directly.

Adam Minsky, Esq. (12:45): So instead it's been defined by courts over the years, which have taken a very they've made it a very difficult standard for most borrowers to meet borrowers do sometimes you know, show that they meet it. But it's, it's very tough. And in order to even show that you meet the standard, you have to go through a process called an adversary proceeding, which essentially involved suing your student loan lender in the context of a bankruptcy proceeding which can be a long tedious, expensive and invasive process. So it's, it's really difficult to discharge student debt and bankruptcy, and there's been a push to, to change that. So there was new legislation unveiled very recently in the Senate, it's a bipartisan bill that would replace the undue hardship standard for federal student loan discharges in bankruptcy with instead a 10 year waiting period.

Adam Minsky, Esq. (13:40): So basically they would treat a student loan, or at least a federal student loan debt. The same as other consumer debt in bankruptcy provided the borrower has been making efforts to repay the loans for at least 10 years. The idea here is they don't want people to graduate from college or a graduate degree program, and then go right into bankruptcy to discharge their student loan debt. They want you to have made a really good effort to try to repay it. But after 10 years the, you know, the, the approach is that those, those federal student loans would be treated no differently from other forms of consumer debt by credit card debt. So that would be a significant reform compared to what we have right now.

Shamil Rodriguez (14:21): Yeah. I could see that being a strategy that some people would try to use. So interestingly, they decided to create that time period. That's that's how

Adam Minsky, Esq. (14:33): Actually, so before the undue hardship standard was in place, there was a so-called waiting period for student loans. So student loans could be discharged in bankruptcy, but you just had to be in repayment for a certain number of years. So in many ways it's a return to weight to the way things were before the undue hardship standard was put

Shamil Rodriguez (14:49): In. Okay. Good to know. Good to,

Daphné Vanessa (14:51): Were you following this space when that undue hardship standard came in? Like, what were some of the regions, could you share with the audience, the legislative history behind that decision?

Adam Minsky, Esq. (15:04): Yeah, I mean, I, this was, you know, far, far before my time. So you know, and I, I haven't brushed up on this specific legislative history, but it w it was fairly incremental. It started off with a waiting period. And then that waiting period was expanded. And then the undue hardship standard was implemented for federal student loans. And then that was further expanded in subsequent legislation to include private student loans. And then there've been, you know, cases that have come out through the courts that have defined what undue hardship is or means. So it's, it wasn't as if there was one single event that just changed everything. It was sort of a series of events over time that resulted in the regime that we have now, but that regime has been in place. You know, if you include private student loans since 2005, but federal student loans were governed by the R and D hardship standard. Well, well, before that.

Shamil Rodriguez (16:01): Yeah, no. So, and I think this tie as well Adam, into the idea of how servicers come into play here, right? Because if you're trying to show that you're making payments and trying to work things out, you know, unfortunately we've heard horror stories and I know that's not everyone's experience, but that's, you know, what kind of those stories are the ones that make it to the newsletter, the ones that, you know, sometimes spur legislation. What have you seen, I guess, from the services experience or from the servicer's perspective, how have you seen those relationships change in terms of how servicers are being held accountable and how students are, or, excuse me, borrowers are being expected to participate with them in terms of, you know, working out those types of agreements to make payments. So,

Adam Minsky, Esq. (16:47): I mean, you know, student loan, servicers are typically contractors that are working on behalf of the lender for government held federal student loans. They're working on behalf of the government. And, but the servicer is the entity that the borrower interfaces with in a, in a routine basis. And, and what what's happened is that over time you know, Congress has established these, these new programs you know, different repayment, plan programs, different loan, forgiveness programs, each with their own unique eligibility criteria and servicers have done historically a very poor job of relaying information about these programs to borrowers and administering these programs. And, you know, certainly there's an argument that the programs themselves are unwieldy and complex, which makes servicer's job, you know, quite difficult one could argue, but at the same time, the borrowers really don't have anywhere else to get information and guidance other than their servicer.

Adam Minsky, Esq. (17:46): And so you have this situation where folks, for instance, for years may not have been aware that they could have been in an income driven repayment plan, and instead the service steered them into forbearances, where they don't make any progress towards anything. And their balance just grows over time. Public service loan forgiveness has been a big one which which is a loan forgiveness program for folks who work for nonprofit organizations or government entities and borrowers needed any remaining balance forgiven after 10 years of payments. But that program also has very specific eligibility criteria that up until very recently were not very well communicated to borrowers. And the administering of that program has been quite problematic. Currently it has a denial rate of about 98%. And there's a lot of reasons that go into that very high denial rate.

Adam Minsky, Esq. (18:36): But part of it is because of the complex requirements of the program. Part of it is because historically servicers have not done a good job of, of relaying those requirements and helping borrowers navigate the system. So I think that's emblematic of what has become a large complex unwieldy system where servicers have historically you know, not really done a great job of shepherding folks through that. And that has actually caused harm to borrowers the consumer financial protection bureau recently released a report that found that servicing practices you know have actually harmed borrowers because they've had to pay more or for longer and they've lost out on, on, on some benefits. So it, it, it's, it's a huge problem.

Shamil Rodriguez (19:18): And I think that's, it's, it's unfortunate because that is the reality of how people are experiencing their relationship with servicers. And I'm glad you brought up the PSLF because we actually had an episode where we brought on Betsy me up from the Northeast up in Massachusetts as well, episode 23, where she actually went into those details. And I think that's something that we try to, we try to bring some light to, and I'm glad you, you really went into detail there because a lot of times people just don't know. And that's what our attempt is here is to make sure that people learn these things it's reiterated so that you can call your servicer and say, Hey, do I qualify for these programs? And it's okay to call it not and B and they may say no. And then you can say, okay, well, let me double check in something else.

Shamil Rodriguez (20:02): Like you said, there's plenty of information out there on the internet to learn that information, but on that front as you said, servicers or contractors, I know a lot of people don't know that that also kind of dovetails into something that I think would be a great transition into another article that you covered, Adam, where a recent relationship with the government from one of the loan servicers is actually going to expire at the end of this year. Would you mind just sharing a little bit about that information and how that technical impact people?

Adam Minsky, Esq. (20:30): Sure. So I actually, two, two loan servicers have recently announced that they would not be renewing their contracts with the department of education. Granted state higher education is one and fed loan servicing which operates under the Pennsylvania higher education assistance agency or FITA together. These two servicers managed somewhere around 10 million student loan borrower accounts, and the servicers have announced that they won't be renewing their contracts with the department of education, which expires I believe in December. So that means that the department of education is going to have to transfer all those accounts to a different student loan service, or we don't know who that is going to be, or whether it's going to be multiple servicers. And historically those types of transitions have not gone particularly well for, for folks. The consumer financial protection bureau has released reports showing that, you know, servicing changes like that often results in confusion that can cause financial harm in the form of missed or lost payments or Roni is negative credit reporting.

Adam Minsky, Esq. (21:32): You know, a confusion about payment due dates or auto debit arrangements, lost records. So it, it, it could be a huge problem. You know, compounding the issue is the fact that FedLoan servicing in particular has been the sole contracted servicer to administer the public service loan forgiveness program on behalf of the department of education, which again, that's the program that has the 98% denial rate complex eligibility criteria that historically have not been well communicated to folks. So FedLoan servicing has sort of established itself as the servicer specifically tasked to administer this complicated program. And now they're backing out, which means all these borrowers are going to find themselves with new servicers who aren't going to have the same type of expertise or experience in this particular program. We don't know exactly what that will mean for folks, but you know, it may not be good. So we'll, we'll have to see what happens, but at, at a minimum, millions of borrowers are going to see their account shifted over to different servicing companies over the course of the next few months or so.

Shamil Rodriguez (22:35): So Adam, what do you think that will actually mean for people you know, at home, right? What does that look like on the ground level? What are some things that people can put in place to protect themselves? Or how can they transition? Cause I can imagine this can create some anxiety for some people say, well, like, wait, what do you mean? Like there's going to be a change. What's that going to mean for me? What am I going to do? How should I protect myself or prepare myself for it? I guess if you were speaking to someone right now who was one of those FedLoan servicing accounts, that's going to be switched, I guess, what, what would you tell them? You know, if you were speaking to them

Adam Minsky, Esq. (23:10): Today, well, I mean, just be prepared for your account to, you know, be transferred over to a different servicers. So be on the lookout for new correspondence, from the department of education, from FedLoan servicing and from whoever the next servicer is going to be, make absolutely sure. All your contact information is up to date both with FedLoan servicing but also with the department of education would be, or the student aid, a gov portal, which is where folks can go to renew their income driven plans or apply for those types of plans. You know borrowers should also download and routine all their records. That includes all correspondence, payment histories. You know, one of the problems that we've seen, particularly for folks on track for the public service loan forgiveness program is that records don't always fully transfer over from servicer to servicer.

Adam Minsky, Esq. (23:58): And if you ever have to prove that you were, you know, making payments during a particular time period, or you were on a particular type of repayment plan during that time period, you may need to show that somehow and to show that you might need correspondence of some kind or, or other records. So download and retain all your records, update your contact information for folks that are, have been on auto debit arrangements, you might need to re-establish those auto debit arrangements when your accounts are transferred over. So be aware of that, don't assume the payments are just going to automatically continue to come out of your bank account and be aware of scams. There's a lot of bad actors out there that like to take advantage of confusion and chaos that are frankly inherent in the student loan system, but are going to certainly be aggravated by the servicing transfers. So, you know, verify that whoever's contacting you is a real legitimate loan servicer. Folks can do that by checking their student aid, that gov accounts, which will tell them who their current servicer is. So if they're contacted by someone claiming to be handling the student loans folks shouldn't just necessarily take their word for it. You know, cross-reference that with the department of Ed's online system as well?

Shamil Rodriguez (25:11): Well said, Adam well said and spoken like a true attorney to say, retain all your documents. I like that. Exactly, exactly. So on that, on that front, I think I just want to reiterate one point that really stood out to me for people is the scam part. It's very easy for people to receive a phone call, right? And then the other person on the line will say, Hey, I'm calling from XYZ servicing company, we're in charge of student loan. Would you mind providing me your social security number before we can speak about your account? I would just tell people like, don't even move in that direction. You may. And if you want to, you know, correct me if I'm wrong or give some different advice at them, feel free obviously. But I think that it's important to call them back and ask them for the number that they're calling from to make sure that it's a legit company, or like you said, I love the idea that the power's in your hands to go to the student gov website so that you can actually see who your servicer is.

Shamil Rodriguez (26:05): You can update your contact information so that they know how to reach you when they send you letters make sure that they've got the same address. They don't have an old address. Maybe you've moved at this time. All of those things are really important, especially now because you don't want to get caught with someone, sending you a letter saying, Hey, send us $10,000. And you know, you're still a loan payments will be okay, or we'll set up your auto debit $400 a month. And, you know, you're all good to go. And you just give your phone number over the, you know, you get your card number over the phone. And the next thing you know, you're getting letters saying that you've missed your payments and you're in default. But you thought you've been making, you know, your monthly payments to your, your Lowe's or your new loan

Adam Minsky, Esq. (26:41): There. Right? Exactly. So, so folks should be very careful about that. Definitely, you know, verify, you know, who's contacting you and make sure that they are legitimate. You know, you also can, you know, watch for certain types of language and correspondence that, you know, should, should trigger some, some red flags, you know, saying that there is some sort of Biden loan forgiveness or something like that. For every president that has been in office, since I've been doing this work, they just change up the name of the president. So there was Obama loan forgiveness, and then there was Trump loan forgiveness, and now there's Biden loan, forgiveness, you know, that's, there's no such thing. So you know, so if it sounds too good to be true, it might be you know, folks saying that, you know, they're going to be able to give you a no payment obligation you know is another red flag or immediately cancel your loans. That's another red flag. So yeah, I mean, just, you know, be very careful. I mean, obviously you want to make sure that you are doing what you need to do to, you know, get in touch with your servicer. And if you have to re-establish payments you know, you have to make sure that, you know, you're, you're doing what you need to do, but verify that they're legitimate before giving any personal information. That's absolutely

Shamil Rodriguez (27:52): Really important. Okay. Very well said. Thank you. And so now moving it, let's, let's bring some sunshine to this conversation. I've gotten really heavy here. So let's talk about something. That's a really good news that I know a lot of people have either DMD us about email this about even just speaking to people that we know that have student loans, for sure. Ask, you know, do we know anything about the extension? Is that going to be, you know, extended past September? So Adam, would you mind just sharing some good news that people that have federal student loans might want to hear?

Adam Minsky, Esq. (28:23): Yeah, so on Friday, the vitamin ministration didn't announce that they would be extending the current student loan payment paws through January 31st, 2022. So that's great news comes as a big relief to a lot of folks. That means that no payments will be due. As the, as has been the case on the government held federal student loans, interest rates will continue to be set at zero and collections efforts on defaulted. Federal student loans will continue to be suspended. And those months should continue to count as qualifying months for loan forgiveness programs, including public service loan forgiveness as if payments were being made. So it's, it's great news. That being said, the administration has characterized this as the final extension. Certainly, I suppose they could still extend it further. It's not rooted in any sort of, you know, specific law, but they are saying this is the final one. So people should be prepared for their loans to resume repayment. In February it looks certainly looking like that's, what's, that's, what's going to happen. So we get ready for that, but we do have an extra few months and that's great news.

Shamil Rodriguez (29:29): No, I agree. And I think it's a great opportunity for someone to help pay down the loan without interest accruing, which is a huge, and we've said this before, but it's just such a monumental opportunity that does not come often for any, any loan that you may have. So, you know, take advantage of, and even if you're just making, you know, even just a little bit more, maybe you can split your monthly payment over, across a few months or a couple of payments depending on your budget. You know, it really may come in handy for you. If you can knock off a couple of months of payments that could really add up in terms of what you're paying back on the, over the life of the actual loan itself. So, so Adam, what are some of the key takeaways that people should actually take from that the extension occurring in the first place?

Adam Minsky, Esq. (30:17): Well, I mean, again, it gives folks a little bit more time for folks that are on track for public service loan forgiveness you know, there arguably is not much of an incentive to make voluntary payments during this time. You can, but the months are counting towards the 120 required payments of the program. So certainly this is a school of thought that says, why pay more than you need to, if you're on track for eventual loan forgiveness for folks that have been making payments during the moratorium, you can ask for a refund of those payments, if you want you can contact your loan servicer for that. But you're also absolutely right that, you know, for folks that are paying down their loans you know, taking advantage of the 0% interest really does make a difference. It's a really good opportunity to pay down the loan more aggressively, more quickly, if you continue to make what your normal payments were, or even more than that you can actually save yourself quite a bit in terms of interests that you otherwise would have paid.

Adam Minsky, Esq. (31:12): If you are able to do that. So I think how you handle the moratorium really comes down to your overall financial circumstances and also, you know, what your student loan goals are. Is it loan payoff? Is it loan forgiveness? And that really depends on the borrower's specific circumstances. Keep in mind, like we talked about just a few minutes ago that there are some upcoming servicing changes. And I think one of the big reasons that the moratorium was extended was to allow for those changes to take place. There was a big concerns that people would see their service are changing at around the same time that they would be billed for the first time in a year and a half. And that would cause a whole bunch of problems. So I think that the extension will allow for those servicing changes to take place before bills come due. At least that's what it should be. So folks should be prepared to possibly see their servicer change in the coming months. And then they'll have to reestablish payments, you know, by February with their new services.

Shamil Rodriguez (32:08): I am, I am curious to see Adam, if that is actually going to happen, because that argument makes sense for the idea that you may have to make payments when the transition was going to happen. But I'm curious to see whether or not, I mean, have you heard anything yet, so far in terms of transitions you know, are they going to actually make the transition before December? I've just been really curious to see if that's actually going to happen. Yeah, go ahead.

Adam Minsky, Esq. (32:34): I don't have any specific information. I know the department of ed has started reaching out to borrowers individually through mass emails, basically saying, get ready for a change for borrowers who are going to be impacted by this. I mean, the reality is that the contracts that FedLoan servicing and I believe granite state as well are operating under, are over at the end of December. So they technically have no obligation to continue handling these accounts starting next year, which I think puts the department of education in a position where it really needs to transfer these accounts over to other servicers before the end of the year. Maybe there are ways of, you know, of, of, of dealing with things. If you know that this process is not completed by the end of the year, certainly it doesn't leave much time for this to happen. And I don't know what the plan is. And I don't think many people do at this point. So I share your skepticism, but at the same time, if these contracts end at the end of the year, they kind of have no choice. So, you know, we'll have to wait and see what happens.

Shamil Rodriguez (33:34): Well now my breath, but I'm hoping for the best, the so, you know, you'd mentioned something that caught my ear about the idea of like a philosophy that people may have between what their goals are for their student loans. And some people don't want to pay more than they have to, which completely makes sense, especially if you're trying to qualify for the PSLF program. Now, what about the people that are still trying to hold out hope for debt cancellation? I feel like there's like this small cohort of people that are hardcore holding onto the idea that one day 10,000, 50,000, a hundred thousand dollars in student loan debt will somehow just be canceled. I mean, any thoughts on that part?

Adam Minsky, Esq. (34:14): I mean, I don't think that we're going to see everyone's student loan debt just completely wiped out. You know, I, I just don't see that happening. That being said you know, the administration does say that they are seriously exploring the possible authorities that could be used for some sort of mass debt cancellation Biden himself has said that he would support $10,000 in student loan cancellation. He has expressed a lot more uncertainty and skepticism and even somewhat come out against larger figures, such as the $50,000 that has been pushed by by a lot of organizations and members of Congress. But you know, Biden did say on the campaign show, he would support $10,000. He has you know, re reiterated that through spokespersons you know, during the course of his administration so far. But I think the question is, you know, what does that look like?

Adam Minsky, Esq. (35:06): You know, the administration is also looking at tweaking existing programs that could possibly make it easier for folks you know, to get loans forgiven under existing programs, for instance, the borrower defense to repayment program, which provides relief to folks defrauded by their schools, public service loan forgiveness, which we've already talked about that has kind of really complex criteria, which could be easily simplified to expand access disability discharge program, which allows borrowers who are disabled and not really able to much anymore. You know, there's a lot of issues with that program as well. So, you know, I don't know what this is going to look like. I don't think everyone is going to get their debt wiped out, but I think that we could see maybe some sort of combination of executive action regulatory action, and maybe even some some action by Congress which combined could potentially, you know, provide expanded debt relief to a much larger pool of borrowers. But, you know, this is all in flux. And we'll just have to wait and see what happens.

Shamil Rodriguez (36:08): No, absolutely. And this is one, one aspect of how people are impacted by loans, right? This is the government's perspective. Okay. So before Adam, before we move over to the private sector, I am curious to see what your thoughts are. If you had a magic wand, right? Let's say you were king for a day, and you were able to simplify the public service loan forgiveness program, I guess, what would be one or two changes that you would make to make it easier for people to reach that goal?

Adam Minsky, Esq. (36:35): I mean, I'd make a couple of very simple changes that I think could go a long way. So right now, just, you know, by way of background only direct federal loans, qualify, which has particular type of federal student loan and only payments made under an income driven repayment plan count as qualifying payments and consolidating your loans restarts the clock on those payments. So I would just make changes to those three things. I would say that any federal student loans should be a qualifying loan. I would say any payment made on any available repayment plan should count as a qualifying payment. There's no inherent reason that should have to be based on income. And payments made prior to consolidation should be counted. And, and, and shouldn't, you know, results in some sort of penalty for the borrower since the borrower, you know, has been, you know, making payments you know, since prior to consolidate.

Adam Minsky, Esq. (37:28): So I think making those three changes would go a really long way would simplify the administering of the program. So, you know, so these loan servicers don't have to devote the resources to figuring out all right, what type of payment plan is this? What type of loan is this? If they have a loan and payments are made, just count the payments and the count and same is true for payments made pre consolidation. I think that would dramatically reduce the rate of errors. And I think it would dramatically expand the pool of borrowers who would be eligible for free.

Shamil Rodriguez (37:57): I think that's a wonderful, wonderful idea, a great way to end that, that segment there. Definitely. Do you have any follow up questions on, on some of the stuff we just discussed here?

Daphné Vanessa (38:06): You guys are hitting it, like clearly exactly what people need to hear. So I'm reserving my agreement, but I didn't want to cloud up the audio with, I agree, you know.

Shamil Rodriguez (38:20): Okay, great. So I wanted to transition to one area, cause I w we really have landed heavily on the government side of things. And I think it's important because your rights are coming from the government, right. Obviously I'm oversimplifying, but you know, that's where it comes from. And so we want to make sure that you understand how to target red flags when they arise, when you're dealing with your student loan servicer and having issues with repaying back your student loans and what rights you may have. And then just knowing what are some of the changes that are coming down that may impact you getting a letter from fellow servicing or from the department of education saying that, Hey, you have a new servicer. Now you gotta make your payments to somebody else. Right? Those types of things are really important. And what steps should you take that can help protect yourself?

Shamil Rodriguez (39:01): Like updating your address, making sure that the loan service or they gave you a call is the one that's assigned to you. What if there was somebody who was actually a loan servicer and they were legitimate, but they just happened to call the wrong person, right? It's still possible that that could happen. So those are all really important. But what I want to flip over to as the last topic of today's discussion is going to be the private sector aspect of it. Right? So, Adam, I know you had covered an article recently about some companies that were helping their employees have become debt-free by paying for school and some other expenses as well. Would you mind just sharing a little bit about that? So people that are out there may consider asking their employers that they offer this type of incentive, or, Hey, they may use this as leverage to bring on a new program to their company.

Adam Minsky, Esq. (39:45): Some, some, some companies are offering you know, as a, as an employee incentive you know debt-free college basically. So not necessarily paying off existing loans, but allowing folks to go to school, or even in some cases go back to school for a graduate degree. And the and the companies will pay for that. So Walmart and target, for instance, just, just announced recently, some, some new programs for their their employees. Now, there are other employers that do offer what's called loan repayment assistance. Whereas as an employee benefit, they'll pay a portion of your student loan debt or they'll cover a portion of your payments. That's, I think a little bit of a, of a more rare form of employee benefit, but it is something that I've seen you know, grow in the last few years, the IRS, I believe I don't, you know, I would double-check this with obviously your, your employer, but I believe the IRS issued an opinion letter a few years ago for a company that wanted to create essentially some sort of a retirement matching program that I believe matches your student loan payments.

Adam Minsky, Esq. (40:51): So there's an incentive to make student loan payments in exchange for, or you know, some sort of retirement contributions. So, you know, there, there are some ideas out there, I think in the private sector for for addressing this, but at the end of the day, I think that, you know, a lot of these programs while, while beneficial to some just kind of nibble around the edges, I think really we're going to need, you know, more robust reform for that, or be any real meaningful changes, you know, in terms of the overall system,

Daphné Vanessa (41:18): Slightly agree. And then what role do you think universities play in terms of the price of how much it costs to attend school in the first

Adam Minsky, Esq. (41:27): Place? Yeah, I mean, certainly you know, colleges and universities are playing a role in the student loan situation. You know, certainly the cost of higher education has gone up at a faster rate than inflation. I don't, you know, I don't, I'm not allow maker. And, you know, I don't know what the exact solution is, but certainly I think holding schools accountable is important. There was a rule that was in place in previous administrations called the gainful employment rule, which basically says that you know, for, for, for schools that are the recipients of federal student aid programs and the beneficiaries of federal student aid programs they should have, you know, employment outcomes that meet certain standards. Otherwise they shouldn't be able to access federal student aid as a source of revenue. So I think, you know, rules like that would go a long way in helping to hold schools accountable and maybe even keep costs under control.

Daphné Vanessa (42:27): I agree. And do you foresee, based on your experience, the new department of education had bringing that accountability towards universities, or is that something that you think will take more than one administration?

Adam Minsky, Esq. (42:44): Ministration is in the early stages of overhauling, a lot of rules and regulations governing a lot of these programs. And the process takes awhile. It's, it's through a process called negotiated rulemaking, which involves a bunch of public hearings, drafting regulations, having more hearings finalizing it that whole process can take, you know, a year or two sometimes longer than that. And it's too soon to know what the results of this process will be. But my hope is that we will see some positive changes within the next couple of years for a lot of these programs that will hopefully go a long way to helping fix some of the problems with the system.

Shamil Rodriguez (43:23): Okay. Okay. So Adam, that was phenomenal. Daffy, that wraps up my questions. Do we have enough time for a couple of bonus round questions? What do you think? Definitely let's do the lightning round. All right, Adam, are you ready for it? Just so the audience remembers we did not prepare Adam at all. So to see what he comes up with,

Daphné Vanessa (43:45): All right, if you could choose a million dollars of student loan debt or a million dollars of mortgage debt, which would you choose

Adam Minsky, Esq. (43:52): It's mortgage debt, because at least you have an asset that comes with the mortgage debt that you can sell if you need to.

Daphné Vanessa (43:59): Okay. If you had to sell something to pay off your student loans, what would you sell?

Adam Minsky, Esq. (44:10): I mean, that's a tough question. I mean I mean, I let's just say for the sake of argument, I have a really expensive piece of jewelry, which I know I would say if you did.

Daphné Vanessa (44:27): Okay. And final question, Devoss or Cardona or no response.

Adam Minsky, Esq. (44:34): Oh, Cardona for sure. I mean, you know, I mean, he's too soon, I think to really, you know, say for sure what type of education secretary is going to be, but already he's shown to be more of a, of a, of a pro borrower type of of department head, you know, versus, you know, Devoss who clearly was not. So yeah, I, I, I would go for a no-no. Okay.

Daphné Vanessa (45:03): There we go. That wraps up the lightning round. So you did

Shamil Rodriguez (45:08): A great job. Last question for you is how can people reach out to you or which preferred method do you have that you would want people to know?

Adam Minsky, Esq. (45:18): Yeah, so I mean the easiest way to get more information on me would be my website, which has been ski-law.com, M I N S K Y hyphen law.com. And you can also follow me on social media. I am on Twitter. My handle is at Adam S Minsky, a D a M S M I N S K Y. You can also follow me on LinkedIn or you can find my my law firm's Facebook page as well.

Shamil Rodriguez (45:47): Okay. All right. Thank you so much, Adam. This was a fantastic episode. I really think that we covered a lot of ground here, and I hope that a lot of people took away from it. Awesome, great value, which I did. You reminded me of some programs that I'm going to share with some people, some ideas that I think are fantastic, that we should share. We're going to link your, your, your website and some of the resources that you listed here in the show notes as well. So if anybody has any questions or any more details, you can find more information on today's episode on the student loan podcast.com forward slash episode 42. That's the student loan podcast.com forward slash episode 42.

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