On Your Side Alert: Free Counseling for Student Loan Debt

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Student loan debt is a major problem. Even The White House has taken notice. Recently, President Obama signed into law, a deal that would lower interest rates for millions of college students. A local company is offering a helping hand and it's free.

College can be a great experience, but after graduation, it can be a nightmare -- those student loans will need to be paid. Terrence Banks, credit counselor, for Clear Point Credit Counseling Solutions, says it's keeping them busy. "This is becoming one of the largest basis of our clientele now," he says.

When it comes to repaying, Banks says there is one major obstacle. "Getting employment to actually pay the debt itself and if you don't find that particular job that can pay that debt, then you are stuck with that balance," he explains.

ClearPoint is joining in the fight to reduce student loan debt. Counselors received extra training and have partnered with The Student Loan Alliance Program, a non-profit working to educate consumers about student loan debt and ultimately, helping decrease the national student loan crisis.

"We've even seen people's Social Security checks garnished, they don't go away," Banks says.

Most places will charge a fee of $50 for the Student Loan Alliance Counseling, ClearPoint is offering it for free. Counselors provide a number of services, like advising you on repayment options and determining if you are available for federal assistance that can help you repay the loans. "Let's say you just got out of school and you're looking for a job and maybe you took a part time job at a local restaurant or something like that, well, they can try to structure the payment program based on that income," Banks tells us.

To get started, you can visit ClearPoint's website or Student Loan Help.org If you're currently a student, experts have some advice. "Start paying something now. Even if it is a small amount, start tackling those loans now. Have an idea of how much it is going to be," Banks advises.

Another tip, don't ignore the lenders. Communication is key and many times lenders will work with you if you are having trouble repaying the loan.

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