CFPB Working for You: Student Loan Help for Volunteers

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By Consumers Union on Friday, October 17th, 2014

Do you dream of serving your country as a Peace Corps volunteer, but are worried that you won’t be able to pay back your student loans? The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is here to help.

About a quarter of American workers are involved in public service. Many of them have joined the military, volunteered abroad in the Peace Corps, or worked domestically in AmeriCorps. While these programs offer graduates valuable experiences to draw on throughout their careers, in the short term, participants may not make enough money to repay their student loans.

Others have already served their country, but aren’t aware of federal initiatives to help them pay back their federal loans. Cathie, of Nashville, Tennessee, tells us that her daughter, an AmeriCorps volunteer, isn’t sure whether she’s eligible to take advantage of federal student loan forgiveness:

“My daughter is now 36 years old and is still struggling to pay her student loan debt. Two years ago she had to move back home in order to pay her debts. It makes me irate. She is legally blind and has had trouble getting jobs. Why was she required to accumulate such debt to begin with is hard for me to understand. She got assistance from Vocational Rehabilitation for the Blind, got the full Pell Grant amounts and worked a year as an Americorps Volunteer (which pays $5000.00 towards educational expenses). And she seems to think she could not qualify for the Obama ‘Forgiveness Program’ . . . I do not know what to do.”

Fortunately, the CFPB is working to demystify federal student loan repayment. The CFPB and four other federal government agencies, including the Department of Education, the Peace Corps, and the agency that handles AmeriCorps, the Corporation for National and Community Service, have created informational guides for participants in these programs. There are special guides for servicemembers, for Peace Corps members, and those involved in national service like AmeriCorps, to help devise smart plans to repay loans, enroll in forgiveness programs, and benefit from other federal assistance. Benefits are also available for public servants like teachers and firefighters – click here to learn more.

If you have a specific complaint or issue with a financial service provider, you can submit a complaint to CFPB online or over the phone at 1-855-411-2372, and they will make sure the provider replies to you. We also hope you share your student loan story with Consumers Union here!

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