Top Student Loan Scams

student loan scamWith billions of dollars being loaned to students each year, there is no doubt that there are scammers trying to get your money. Here are some common scams that are happening right now that you should be aware of when looking for student loans.

 

Advance Fee Scam

This scam involves a student loan company that tells you they can get you the “best” interest rate and loan terms, but you have to pay a “small” fee up front for this service. The fee can be anywhere from 1-5% of the loan amount.

If you come across this offer – RUN! There are no circumstances in which you should have to pay money to get money. Legitimate student loans, even from private lenders, do not require any fees up front. If there are any fees, they are deducted from the disbursement check or they are included in the repayment amount and are amortized over the repayment period.

There are two common fees that will be paid with the loan, but once again, never up front. Federal student loans charge a 1% default fee, but charge no origination fees. Most private loans charge some type of either disbursement fee or origination fee, but these are usually negotiable and vary widely from lender to lender.

 

Loan Consolidation Scam

After you graduate, it might be a good idea to consolidate your student loans. This is another area that is ripe with scams. The most common student loan consolidation scam is one in which the company charges a consolidation fee, but actually does nothing. The fee is sometimes called processing fees, administrative fees, or consolidation fees.

If you have a federal student loan, there are no fees whatsoever for student loan debt consolidation.

If you have a private student loan, there are only FOUR lenders nationwide that offer consolidation loans. The companies are listed on FinAid.org, which is sponsored by the US Department of Education to help borrowers navigate the student loan process.

Finally, if you are considering consolidation, make sure you read our guide on The Right Way To Consolidate Your Student Loans.

 

Student Loan Debt Elimination Scam

The important thing to remember about student loan debt is that it must always be repaid – it cannot be eliminated unless you have a federally qualifying reason (death, permanent disability, school closure, falsification of documents or identity theft). If you come across a company that promises to get your student loan debt eliminated, it is a scam!

 

It Feels Like a Scam

It’s important to remember that if it feels like a scam, it probably is a scam.  However, there are times when it’s not a scam, but it just seems like one.  For example, I get a lot of readers asking about the FedLoan Servicing Scam.  FedLoan isn’t a scam, but just a poorly run student loan servicing company.  Another one I get asked a lot about is NelNet, especially when it comes to their KwikPay Service.  Once again, not a scam, just a poorly run program.

I hope this helps you navigate the world of student loans a little better and avoid getting played.  If you want to know more, don’t forget to check out my Definitive Guide to Student Loan Debt.

 

Readers, have you ever been the victim of a student loan scam?

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  • http://stopworryingaboutmoney.com Adam Kamerer

    Robert, this is a great article. I didn’t even know about some of these scams. Do you have any data on how many people fall victim to these each year?

    • http://thecollegeinvestor.com Robert

      No I don’t. There is no central hub that tracks this, and the scams usually fall under labels like “Identity Theft” or “Fraud”. However, with student loans dispersing close to $100 billion per year, you know that there has to be more victims that you think.

  • http://wealthnote.com Levi @ Wealthnote.com

    I have fallen victim to a student loan scam. I had an outstanding loan that I was making payments on. I wanted to go back to school but I was unable to get funding aid while I still had my outstanding loan. I received a letter in the mail claiming I could have my student paid off and added to a credit card. I could then make payments on the card. They even offered me more credit on top of that.

    Well they sent me a Mastercard, added the loan to my balance, but never paid off the original loan. The student loan went into default and it was a big mess to clean up after.

    Moral of the story is stick to only to well known government back type of help when it comes to student loans.

  • Melissa

    I received a letter in the mail from a place in Orange, CA that called themselves Student Processing Center. Has anyone heard of them. They promised that they would consolidate my loans, after completing my associates degree in nursing, my bachelor’s degree in nursing, and halfway through my masters degree, I owe $51,000. They said that, based on my income and family size, they could decrease my payments to $30 per month, and after 25 years, whatever is left would be written off by the dept. of education. They said they require a fee of $599 up front. It sounds too good to be true. I asked if they were part of the DOE or a third party. The guy, “Kevin,” with whom I was speaking said they were a third party, but I would receive a contract and all the paperwork in the mail. However, I had to pay $599 over the phone before any of this would take place. I checked for this company on the BBB website and found nothing. Anyone ever heard of them? He said their website is StudentProcessingCenter dot com. I looked at it, but, like my husband said, anyone can build a website.

    • http://thecollegeinvestor.com/ Robert Farrington

      Melissa, it’s not a “scam” in the fraud sense, but it is a scam in the waste of money sense.

      Companies like this simply charge you a fee to get you paperwork you could easily get yourself.

      For the student loan consolidation stuff, check out my recent article on the subject: http://thecollegeinvestor.com/11616/consolidate-your-student-loans/

      For the repayment options, check out my ultimate guide on student loan debt and learn the options you qualify for: http://thecollegeinvestor.com/the-definitive-guide-to-student-loan-debt/

      To change repayment options, you simply call your lender and don’t have to pay anyone!

      • LogicSpeaks

        So I guess same question as above, since this isn’t a “scam” in the fraud sense, then if I didn’t agree to pay them anything (however gave them too much personal information) does it mean they can still screw me out of more money at this point? Should I create a new checking account number? I almost embarrassed to call my self LogicSpeaks……… but hey, probably have to fall for a scam at least once in your life? :p

        • bhansen3

          I just gave them entirely way too much information myself and then had a small panic attack after i got off the phone, did any of your accounts get compromised?

  • alisia

    What about Direct loans processing center. anyone ever deal with them?

  • David Diaz

    My fiance is working with a company called nationwide student loan, they are supposedly going to be able to consolidate her student loan debt by making payments of $133 for 6 months.Once 6 months of payments have been received they will qualify her based on her income $0 for 12 months and will apparently continue that process until the loan company for fill debt. Is this real?

    • http://thecollegeinvestor.com/ Robert Farrington

      Doesn’t sound real to me. I would bypass the company and call the lender directly.

  • SteveLen80

    I wondered the same.. they want $599 up front to process an application with 2-4 months of skipped payments though.. i opted to go through studentloans.gov much of the same info is entered, though the terms of repayment dont seem quite as long, though maybe thats not until you get the info from the new servicer, in my case nelnet and its free to try

  • Daniel Arturo Bahena

    Does anybody know anything about the Student Loan Support company? I called them at (866) 233-8481 ext.422 to get information, and it all seemed too good to be true. I couldn’t find anything wrong with it, but I also don’t feel like it’s legitimate. I need to know if anyone has had experience with Student Loan Support in the past. Please offer your experiences. Thank you.

  • cody

    I recently started dealing with studentaidcenter.org I found them on Google and contacted them. they are not requiring me to pay anything but they consolidated my loans and because of my income they dropped my payments to $100 a month and after 20 years anything that’s left will be forgiven by the government. I haven’t made any payments yet and also don’t want to give them too much personal information. Is this a scam?

    • http://thecollegeinvestor.com/ Robert Farrington

      I’d be concerned because it sounds like they are doing stuff for you that you could easily do for yourself if you simply called your student loan provider. Be careful.

    • Barbara Davidson

      I spoke to a company National Student Loan Relief Center and they want 625 in 4 payments and they would get my student loans forgiven. They checked with studentloans.gov for my loan totals and what they could do for me. I worked 20 yrs with a public non profit state agency. My loans are not going down due to interest. But when I check with studentloans.gov the same payment plans come up but not the forgiveness that the company promises. I was advised they are a 3rd party not affiliated with the department of education and I am paying for administrative work to complete the process. When I asked is this for sure the loans are forgiven Alexandria said yes I have already been confirmed that all payments would be 0 income based. Is this for real or a scam.

      • http://thecollegeinvestor.com/ Robert Farrington

        They are charging you for something that you can do yourself – your last line says it all: they are going to change your repayment plan to IBR (Income Based Repayment). On this plan, your payments could be $0, and after a period of time (typically 20-30 years), your loan will just be forgiven. However, there are tax consequences from this, but they could be minor.

        You can set that up yourself, just call your student loan servicer.

        Don’t pay them to fill out some paperwork for you.

  • Maggie

    SLC Processing did anybody heard anything about them?

    • http://thecollegeinvestor.com/ Robert Farrington

      If it’s a company that wants you to pay them for a something, be aware. You should never have to pay to get your student loan payment plan changed, to get student loan forgiveness, or get deferrals, and more.

  • LogicSpeaks

    Greetings, so overly excited idiot me gave way too much personal information to Student Processing Center, however they asked for 599.99 and I stopped. They even ‘lightly’ pushed for me to borrow that 600$ from someone else. I said no I can’t afford it so I just let him go. I don’t think I’ve ever fallen for a scam before… I know down below you said this company isn’t exactly fraudulent, they’re just charging you money for something we could do ourselves (now I know). Will this company screw me with any fees? or are they legit in terms of not doing anything until you agreed on it? I’ve changed my Student aid PIN on FAFSA.ED.GOV Should I call my bank since I idiotically gave them my routing/account number?

    • http://thecollegeinvestor.com/ Robert Farrington

      Since you stopped everything, I wouldn’t worry about them drawing on your account. However, just stay vigilant and make sure they don’t.

      Good job not going through with it. You can do it yourself for free.

      • bhansen3

        I did the same, should I change my FAFSA pin as well?

  • April Williams

    Please tell me if USLPR government program is a scam. These people have all of my information. I called 1.888.609.6997

    • http://thecollegeinvestor.com/ Robert Farrington

      Once again, they are not a “scam” but you’re paying for a service you don’t need and you could probably do yourself by calling your lender.

      You don’t need to pay to reduce your payments, change your payment plan, or get consolidation. All of those can be done with a simple phone call to your lender and filling out some paperwork.