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Avoid losing your law license over student loans

It's no secret that student loans are skyrocketing -- and defaulting on them can cripple your credit score. That makes it impossible to buy a house or get a car loan, among other things. Eventually, your tax return can be seized and your wages garnished to repay the debt.

That makes it seem particularly unfair that defaulting on your student loans can also cost your license to practice law. It also seems counterproductive to the goals of the government, since not having a license to practice in your chosen profession is definitely going to make it harder for you to find employment and pay back those loans.

As of January 2018, there were 14 states where defaulting on your student loans can result in a suspension or revocation of your law license. Fortunately, California isn't one of them -- but that doesn't mean it won't be in the future. It also can cause problems if you want to relocate. That means you need to take steps to make sure that you reconcile any outstanding issues with your student loans as quickly as possible.

What can you do if the debt is piling up and you've fallen behind?

1. Contact your loan servicer or collection agency

Let them know that you want to rehabilitate the loans but can't afford to pay off the past-due debt immediately. They're generally willing to work with people who have fallen behind because even a small payment is better than no payment. After a period of steady payments, you may be able to rehabilitate the loan and get the record of default removed -- or stop it from being on your record in the first place.

2. Borrow the money for the loans

Depending on your resources, you might borrow the money from a relative or ask a relative to co-sign a bank loan that will get you out of default. This is also helpful if you're looking to consolidate several small loans into one larger one.

3. Get on an income-based repayment plan

This matches your student loan payment to a rate that's affordable for your income. In addition, your loans can be forgiven after 20-25 years of payments (depending on when you borrowed).

The important thing is to stay on top of your loans. You're far likelier to encounter problems with your license through inaction -- while a proactive approach can save it.

Source: studentloanhero.com, "Facing Student Loan Default? You Could Lose Your License in These States," Christy Rakoczy, accessed June 15, 2018

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