TRAVERSE CITY — The date for student loan repayments to start was pushed back several times but now those student loan extensions are done and with the soaring inflation it can make for a very difficult situation for some.
The manager of financial management services for Northwest Michigan Community Action Agency, Karen Emerson, said their agency helps people learn to budget their finances and can help students navigate the student loan repayment process.
Emerson said with situations being different than three years ago and the rise in inflation-she expects to be getting more calls for help.
“They might not have needed that three years ago or four years ago. But now they’re in a situation that maybe their family income has changed and one of the parents is staying home with the children and now they really need to buckle down,” said Emerson.
Emerson said it could make things worse, if you don’t tackle the debt head on.
“Then you might get additional fees and assessments and all that, and you don’t want to do that,” said Emerson.
She said the first step should be to talk to your loan servicer.
“Start communicating right away with the servicer and find out where they are, how much do I owe? What does this mean for me? What are my options?” said Emerson.
Emerson said there are initiatives being rolled out federally to help.
“There’s so many programs out there. It seems like each of them are still being rolled out as we speak. And I think we’ll be able to know more as more and more comes to light,” said Emerson.
Emerson said it’s not a bad idea to check into refinancing if your situation is different and said their agency can also help connect people with resources.
“There are some food programs that are available quarterly through our agency that people can access. We can also direct them to some food pantries and some other resources in the area that could possibly help,” said Emerson.
Emerson warned with the increase in people refinancing their current repayment plans, there’s also been an increase in scams.
“When somebody contacts you, calls you or emails you and represents somebody to contact your authentic servicer that you have paperwork with, with that telephone number. Usually, if something’s too good to be true, it is good advice,” said Emerson.
Emerson said you can check with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to learn about recent scams.
For more information about Northwest Michigan Community Action Agency, click here.
To learn more about the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, click here.