Options for student debt relief and avoiding scams

Published: Jan. 31, 2020 at 5:22 PM CST
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Student loan debt is an issue for many students and recent grads. Add scams that promise to help people pay back their loans on top of the debt and the problem snowballs.

The Federal Trade Commission reports it's filed lawsuit after lawsuit on companies promising to pay off student loans. According to the FTC website, the last suit was in November against a company called "Arete."

However, legitimate programs such as North Dakota Career Builders are helping students pay off their debt, while building a better future for North Dakota.

It's something that college students know well.

"A lot of kids come out with student debt and that's when they don't have that much money," said Aaron Vallejo, Bismarck State College student.

However, the ND Career Builders Scholarship and Loan Repayment program can help. It was was created in August 2019 to help students fill in-demand jobs in the state.

"A student who was planning to attend a two-year program of study was actually able to go in and cancel a student loan that they had set up, roughly to the amount of $12,000 because they had received a Career Builders Scholarship," said Lisa Johnson, vice chancellor of Academic and Student Affairs at the North Dakota University System.

The program has so far awarded $215,000 in scholarships and loan repayments and helped 30 students transition into a skilled workforce position.

However, some students with debt aren't so lucky.

The FTC website states: "Arete" scammed students out of money, promising to pay off their student loans but never made good on the promise.

"If someone is ever calling you and asking you for money, it should be a red flag. Especially if they're saying, 'pay us money and then we're going to get rid of some of your student loan debt.' It sounds a little too good to be true and the old saying is true that if it sounds too good to be true than it probably is," said Tom Ternes, education market manager at the Bank of North Dakota.

Ternes encourages students and grads to call their loan servicers to verify whether a program is legit.

You can contact the NDUS to learn more about the ND Career Builders Scholarship and Loan Repayment program.

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