By Ken Lemberg
Taking control of your student debt can be a daunting process. That’s why we hosted a panel discussion on Managing Student Debt on February 19, 2020. Jen Tschirch, Assistant Director, Office of Public Interest and Community Service at Georgetown University Law Center and Washington Council of Lawyers Board Member guided the conversation with our panelists Brooke Meckler, Law School Engagement and Advocacy Program Manager at Equal Justice Works; Imoni Washington, Director of Programs at the D.C. Bar Foundation; and Courtney Weiner, Managing Partner of the Law Office of Courtney Weiner PLLC.
Our panel sought to make the process easier by providing a comprehensive review of debt management strategies and options for loan repayment assistance programs. This included repayment program terms and conditions, tips on loan debt consolidation, and a full exploration of Public Service Loan Forgiveness.
Our experts put the process into perspective with concrete tips for individual planning. Here are three of their top tips:
- Know the facts about your loans. Understand what types of loans you have, who the guarantors are, who the administrators are, and when the loans were taken. Create a spreadsheet listing all of your loans, including the type and dates you took them out. Then, you will be in a better position to research the available assistance options and compare them to your loans to identify the best options for your situation.
- Keep your own records. Track all loan payments, including the dates the payments were made, and accounts they were paid from. If you seek Public Service Loan Forgiveness, there currently is no online mechanism for tracking qualifying loan payments, so it is important that you keep detailed records of your payments.
- Ask for help. If you lose your job, have unexpected expenses or fear you may need to miss a loan payment or default on a loan for any reason, reach out to your lender for help. It is far better to be proactive and explore ways to lower your monthly payments than to fall behind on repaying what you owe.
To learn more about loan types, consolidation, loan repayment plans, and Public Service Loan Forgiveness, check out these resources:
- Equal Justice Works Student Debt Basics Webinar The next Webinar takes place on Thursday, March 19, 2020, at 3:00 pm.
- Equal Justice Works Student Debt Resources
- D.C. Bar Foundation Loan Repayment Assistance Program (Application available in October.)
- American Bar Association Loan Repayment Assistance Programs Resource Page
We are grateful to our presenters and co-sponsor Greater Washington Area Chapter, Women Lawyers Division, National Bar Association (GWAC) for an informative and timely presentation. A big thank you to Cooley for hosting the program!
Ken Lemberg is a government lawyer and a member of Washington Council of Lawyers Issues Committee.