How can I find debt counselling for my student loan debt?
January 6, 2013 8:57 PM   Subscribe

How can I find debt counselling for my student loan debt? I've heard of debt counselling for other kinds of debt. I'm looking for someone who knows the ins and outs of the byzantine student loan bureaucracy in Canada.

I'm a Canadian living in BC. I have a Canada Student Loan and a Nova Scotia Student Loan (I'm from NS). I finished school a few years ago. I don't make a lot of money. I am concerned that at some point I will be unable to make a payment they demand of me, and I will end up defaulting. I don't want that to happen. I have heard some horror stories and I am pretty scared of defaulting.

I want to know all my options. I know about repayment assistance. But I've also had a customer service rep say "Oh, I can take those three monthly payments and add them to the principal instead. Would you like that? I don't know why no-one told you about that option months ago." This makes me wonder if they have other solutions up their sleeves that they can offer if they feel like it, but that they otherwise don't tell us about.

I'd like to talk to someone who knows all the options, all the rules, all the formulas, and can advise me on my best plan of action. Other than "Yeah you should really try to make more money," because I'm already trying to do that!

Have you ever heard of a student loan debt counsellor? How do I find one? How do I know if I can trust their advice? Any suggestions would be welcome.

Thanks for your help!
posted by fullerenedream to Work & Money (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I would check with your school to see if the alumni services people have any advice, either about what to do or who to talk to. If you talked to financial aid--not at the beginning of a semester when they are swamped--they might be able to direct you to some useful person on the government side who can answer questions.

Student loans are a nightmare. I finished paying mine back three years ago, after 15 years of paying. I know the system is completely different now (I had Canada and BC loans, and how it worked changed twice while I was in school, and I'm sure it's changed a half dozen times since then) but the one piece of advice I would give is to take as much advantage of repayment assistance as you can. I muscled through some tough times that, in retrospect, were totally unnecessary. Take the money when you can. Good luck! Some day you will see the light at the end of the tunnel.
posted by looli at 9:07 PM on January 6, 2013

Do you have a user account at the NSLSC? Every question I have ever had about my loan was answerable there (in fact, I have never had to contact them). From what I gather, your options are to go through repayment assistance or the Severe Permanent Disability Benefit if the latter applies to you.

I know a few people who have used repayment assistance when they weren't making enough money to reasonably make payments. You have to put in the application (available on the website), give proof of your income (and your spouse's, if applicable), and the payments are determined from there. The big thing is to not let it go and to contact them immediately to make arrangements if you think you might not be able to pay.

Good luck. Student loans suck.
posted by futureisunwritten at 4:25 AM on January 7, 2013

Anyone who does credit counseling should be able to help you with your student loans as well. It's not a discrete service, it's all part of the same deal.
posted by valkyryn at 5:57 AM on January 7, 2013

To be clear, I am already taking advantage of repayment assistance.

valkyryn, do you think they would know the internal rules of the NSLSC? I'd love to know the formula they use to calculate an "affordable" payment.
posted by fullerenedream at 10:42 PM on January 7, 2013

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