Attention Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Borrowers!

We want to inform you of important changes regarding the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program if you have MOHELA as your loan servicer and have a PSLF Payment Tracker.

  • Starting May 1, 2024, MOHELA, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Education (ED), will stop processing PSLF Employment Certification Forms. Consequently, your PSLF Tracker will no longer be accessible on your MOHELA account after April 30th. We strongly recommend that you download any pertinent PSLF information before this date.
  • From May-July 2024, you can still submit your forms by using the PSLF Help Tool and selecting “electronic signature” by your employer, but the response will be delayed. Unless you believe you will reach 120 qualifying payments during this period, we recommend you wait to file your Certification Forms until after the transition is completed.
  • Starting July 2024, the Department of Education will manage PSLF qualifying payment counts directly. A PSLF dashboard will be created on your Federal Student Aid (FSA) account at studentaid.gov. For more information, please visit StudentAid.gov/streamlining.

Please note that despite these changes, MOHELA will continue to provide all other loan servicing functions, including payment processing, billing, assistance with repayment plan applications, and handling requests for forbearance and deferment.

Review Your PSLF Information and Keep Records Before May 1, 2024! Check out this brief instruction video from our partners at EDCAP on how to save your information from Mohela: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_C__uMjdU4

If you’re dealing with high interest debt payments as well, see what you can save with Parachute’s Debt Management Plan https://parachutecreditcounseling.org/dmp-calculator/

Would you like to meet one-on-one with one of our Financial Counselors to talk specifically about your Student Loans? Call us to schedule a FREE one-on-one session! 716-712-2060

Latest News: January 2024 Financial Update

Governor Hochul introduces legislation to protect New Yorkers from “bad actors” and medical debt;

New report highlights significant issues with student loan repayment after an unprecedented 3 year period

Parachute Credit Counseling Offers FREE Assistance and Counseling

Parachute Credit Counseling, formerly known as Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Buffalo (CCCS), is the Western New York region’s premier organization providing our community with the best strategies to master their credit. Today they announce a number of notable financial news items emerging this month. Along with these new items, Parachute reminds residents that beginning the new year with a financial “check up” is an invaluable service to their families and themselves.

Call 716-712-2060 or visit https://parachutecreditcounseling.org/  for more information.

The State of Student Loans

On October 1st, Americans resumed paying their student loans, after a 3 and a half year break in payments. Financial experts predicted issues with payments after such a long period, stating that about 20% of student loan borrowers had risk factors that indicated they could struggle when payments resume. These issues have been worse than predicted, confirmed when the Department of Education announced in December that nearly 9 million borrowers–roughly 40% of the 22 million borrowers who had bills due in October–missed their first student loan payment.

Outstanding student loan debt presently exceeds outstanding auto loan debt and credit card debt.

Earlier this month, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)—the federal government agency that ensures that consumers are treated fairly by banks, lenders, and other financial companiesissued a report  on the agency’s monitoring activities of federal student loan servicers since the restart of required payments. Per the CFPB, many borrowers are making their first payment ever on their student loan, and many are also navigating their loan repayment options, including options that allow borrowers to make lower payments based on a percentage of their income. The report discusses challenges faced by borrowers with respect to contacting their servicer, enrolling in alternative repayment options, and billing statement errors. According to borrowers, there have been many problems navigating loan repayment since restarting on October 1st.

The CFPB pledges to work on this situation and to continue to carefully watch loan servicers and work with federal and state agencies to hold accountable those that violate laws protecting borrowers. The CFPB also has resources for student loan borrowers needing more information. Borrowers can also visit the Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid website for more information on restarting student loan payments. In addition, consumers can submit complaints about financial products or services by visiting the CFPB’s website or by calling (855) 411-CFPB (2372).

Parachute Credit Counseling recommends that borrowers contact their office to enroll in their free Student Loan Counseling program, available to all residents of the eight counties of Western New York. Parachute’s Certified Financial Counselors will help WNY residents consolidate their student loans and review other potential relief options and changes to existing programs available to help borrowers reduce or eliminate their debt as well as assist them in making payment plans. Call 716-712-2060 or visit https://parachutecreditcounseling.org/  for more information on our Student Loan Counseling Program and other financial counseling services we provide.

Proposed Consumer Protection Legislation

Governor Hochul has proposed a few pieces of new legislation designed to protect New York residents from unfair and negative business practices and from the all too common issue of medical debt.

Governor Hochul introduces consumer protection legislation

“Buy Now Pay Later” loans have become popular as a low-cost alternative to traditional credit products to pay for everyday and big-ticket purchases, but they remain unregulated and can charge hefty fees. Legislation proposed will require “Buy Now Pay Later” providers to get a license to operate in the state, and to authorize the New York State Department of Financial Services to propose and issue regulations for this rapidly growing industry.

The Governor has additionally called for increased protection measures that strengthen the state’s ability to enforce consumer protections and to penalize “bad actors”.

Governor Hochul introduces legislation to protect New Yorkers from medical debt

Medical debt is a critical issue for many, including over 700,000 New York residents who currently have medical debt in collections. Those with medical debt often forego necessary medical care and historically minimize important social determinants of health, including food, heat, and rent. Overall, this threatens the health and financial stability of New Yorkers. The proposed legislation will limit hospitals’ ability to sue patients earning less than 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level ($120,000 for a family of four), helping to eliminate medical debt lawsuits filed against low-income New Yorkers. Per the Governor’s office, the legislation would also “expand hospital financial assistance programs for low-income New Yorkers, limit the size of monthly payments and interest charged for medical debt and implement other protections to improve access to financial assistance and mitigate the deleterious effects of medical debt on New Yorkers.”

Regional Bankruptcy Update

Bankruptcy rates up by 2.7%: first year-over-year increase for Buffalo since 2018

The Buffalo News recently reported a rise in bankruptcy filings, based on data from the federal bankruptcy court. According to financial experts at Parachute Credit Counseling, they have been seeing people with higher levels of debt which, coupled with higher interest rates, stagnant wages, and inflation can cause financial stress and instability. Bankruptcy can be attributed to some of these issues.

Parachute Financial Counselors assure the WNY community that, despite some environmental concerns, there are simple, proven techniques to facilitate economic security. Now is the time for borrowers to seek unbiased counseling. Parachute counselors will provide expert strategies for attaining financial stability including any financial assistance needed, from budgeting help to credit education, to buying a home. Call 716-712-2060 or visit https://parachutecreditcounseling.org/  for information on financial counseling services.

We’re Hiring a Financial Wellness Specialist!

We are excited to announce an opportunity to join the Parachute Team as a Financial Wellness Specialist. Please spread the word!

A Financial Wellness Specialist’s primary responsibility is to conduct counseling sessions with individuals and families regarding budgeting, debt and credit issues.  A Specialist will provide financial education and guidance while recommending various educational and community programs in order to improve clients’ financial situations.  Financial Wellness Specialist’s empower clients to take control of their financial lives, in an empathetic and compassionate manner, while always accounting for what will be in the client’s best interest based on the client’s unique situation. Financial Wellness Specialist’s also provide Counseling Intake support at the initial contact point for clients and all general incoming calls, requiring patience and positive energy.  Financial Wellness Specialists answer incoming calls, direct calls, greet clients and guests in-person at reception window.

Qualifications:

  • Strong teamwork skills essential
  • Knowledge of computer applications, with proficiency in Microsoft Word and Excel
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills
  • Ability to multi-task 
  • Must be able to work efficiently under strict deadlines/timeframes
  • Must attain educational certifications, as required
  • Position requires attention to detail and basic math/accounting skills
  • Prior case management and/or counseling experience helpful, or experience within Agency
  • Associate and/or Bachelor Degree preferred

About Parachute

Parachute is a non-profit, full-service credit counseling agency, providing confidential financial guidance, financial education, counseling and credit repayment assistance to consumers since 1965. Parachute helps consumers trim expenses, develop a spending plan and repay debts. Counseling is available at our Main Office in West Seneca, by telephone and online.

Hourly rate range for this position is $17.00 – $20.00. Individual compensation is based on various factors unique to each candidate, including skill set, experience, qualifications and other job-related reasons. We offer growth opportunities for professional development along with hourly pay increases. Other benefits include:

  • 401(k) Plan
  • Paid Holidays
  • Paid Personal Time Off (PTO)
  • Life and Disability Insurance
  • Health Insurance
  • Remote work availability one day a week with supplemental throughout the year

Please send resumes to:  robert.dunn@parachutecredit.org

We’re Hiring a Client Care Specialist!

We are excited to announce an opportunity to join the Parachute Team as a Client Care Specialist. Please spread the word!

Job Description

  Job Title: Client Care Specialist (full-time)  Supervisor: Executive Vice President

Summary

Client Care Specialists are the contact for most clients and creditors on a Debt Management Plan (DMP) with Parachute. A Specialist’s responsibilities include contact with clients and creditors, answering questions, addressing concerns, responding to proposals or other issues, assisting in the maintenance of other responsibilities and working proactively by collaborating with co-workers to better achieve successful completions of future active clients.

Qualifications

  • Strong teamwork skills essential
  • Knowledge of computer applications, with proficiency in Microsoft Word and Excel
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills
  • Ability to multi-task
  • Must be able to work efficiently under strict deadlines
  • Must attain educational certifications, as required
  • Position requires attention to detail and basic math/accounting skills
  • Prior case management and/or counseling experience helpful, or experience within Agency
  • Associate and/or bachelor’s degree preferred

About Parachute

Parachute is a non-profit, full-service credit counseling agency, providing confidential financial guidance, financial education, counseling and credit repayment assistance to consumers since 1965. Parachute helps consumers trim expenses, develop a spending plan and repay debts. Counseling is available at our Main Office in West Seneca, by telephone and online.

Hourly rate range for this position is $16.00 – $19.00. Individual compensation is based on various factors unique to each candidate, including skill set, experience, qualifications and other job-related reasons. Other benefits include:

  • 401(k) Plan
  • Paid Holidays
  • Paid Personal Time Off (PTO)
  • Life and Disability Insurance
  • Health Insurance
  • Remote work availability one day a week with supplemental throughout the year

Please send résumés to: scott.laughlin@parachutecredit.org

MORE Student Loan NEWS:

45% of 18-35 Year Old NYS Residents Have Student Loan Debt

Parachute Credit Counseling Offers FREE Assistance and Counseling

Bad News: Proposed Loan Forgiveness Program Struck Down by Supreme Court

Payments to Resume on October 1st

Good News:  804,000 Borrowers Will Have Their Loans Automatically Discharged via Income Driven Repayment (IDR) Plans—Program Extended; Parachute Can Help

NEW SAVE Repayment Plan Announced: Most Affordable Plan Ever Created

12 Month Grace Period: Borrowers Will Not Be Penalized for Missing Payments

Millions of Americans will soon resume paying their student loans, whether they want to or not. In their recent 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court rejected the much hoped for, yet controversial, student loan forgiveness proposal.

This means that interest will once again begin accruing on outstanding loan balances this September. Then, on October 1st, payments resume and 44 million Americans will be paying an average of $210 to $314 each month toward their loan balances (according to Wells Fargo).

However, there is hope that there may be other methods to facilitate student loan forgiveness and the U.S. Department of Education is hard at work on various strategies. 

Late last week, the Department of Education announced a few positive steps, beginning with the news that 804,000 borrowers will have $39 billion in Federal loans automatically discharged due to Income Driven Repayment (IDR) Plan/IDR Account Adjustment. This program had disappointed many until very recently when great effort was put into fixing it. More info coming later in this release: many people could benefit so it is suggested that everyone look into it.

The Department of Education also announced the SAVE Plan (Saving on a Valuable Education) which they have called “the most affordable repayment plan ever created.” This new plan will cut monthly payments to $0 for millions of borrowers making $32,800 or less ($67,500 for a family of four) and save all other borrowers at least $1,000 per year. Additionally, it will stop runaway interest that leaves borrowers owing more than their initial loan.

And in a final announcement, in an effort to ease the transition to monthly payments, President Biden and the U.S. Department of Education stated that there will be a 12-month “on-ramp” period starting in October where “missed, partial, or late payments will not lead to negative credit reporting, default, or loans being sent to collection agencies.” Additionally, missed payments will not count toward loan forgiveness under any of the income-driven repayment plans or Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

We are currently facing a unique, unprecedented situation that will significantly impact millions—along with the entire economy–over the next few years.

Since March 2020, borrowers have had a pause in their student loan payments—with no interest accruing–due to the pandemic. This break let those with loans stay current on other bills and obligations, pay down other debt, or for some, build up their savings.  The resumption of loan payments is expected to have an adverse economic impact with a slow down in overall spending and an increase in defaults and forebearances. Never in the history of the federal student loan system have over 40 million borrowers simultaneously resumed repayment after a three-year hiatus.

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), about 20% of student loan borrowers have risk factors that indicate they could struggle when payments resume. More than 1 in 13 student loan borrowers are currently behind on other payment obligations, a rate higher than before the student loan pause started in March 2020 during the pandemic.

Student loan borrowers owe more in other debts now as well. The CFPB found that median scheduled payments on other debt obligations have increased by 24% for borrowers whose student loans will soon become due. In percentage terms, those increases are especially notable for younger borrowers—a whopping 252% increase from $65 to $229.

Income Driven Repayment (IDR) Plan/IDR Account Adjustment

As mentioned earlier, there are positive options available for student loan borrowers. One of these is the the Income Driven Repayment (IDR) Plan/IDR Account Adjustment which was recently extended until December 31, 2023. Income Driven Repayment (IDR) Plans allow borrowers to make payments on their federal student loans according to a formula based on their income and family size—the payments are deliberately meant to be smaller. Ostensibly this program had been in place prior to the pandemic but there were major issues with it, resulting in few people actually receiving the proper help to enroll in this program.

Last year, the U.S. Department of Education implemented IDR Account Adjustment to help student loan borrowers benefit from the program as it was initially intended. The Department worked to remove the confusion surrounding the program, making it more accessible and available to student loan borrowers. It also conducted a one-time adjustment of IDR payments to address past inaccuracies and improved their previous subpar tracking procedures.

On July 14th, the Department of Education began notifying 804,000 borrowers that they  have a total of $39 billion in federal student loans that will be discharded in coming weeks. In total, more than $116.6 billion in student loan forgiveness for more than 3.4 million borrowers has been approved.

In final good news, there is no application required for the IDR Account Adjustment. Borrowers will automatically receive the benefits. A critical element, however, is that borrowers with non-Direct and non-government-held federal student loans need to consolidate those loans into the federal Direct consolidation program in order to benefit from the IDR Account Adjustment.

The U.S. Department of Education advises: “Borrowers who have commercially managed FFEL, Perkins, or Health Education Assistance Loan Program loans should apply for a Direct Consolidation Loan by the end of 2023 to get the full benefits of the one-time account adjustment.” Additional info available here: https://studentaid.gov/announcements-events/idr-account-adjustment

Parachute Credit Counseling—formerly known as Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Buffalo (CCCS)— recently announced that they are now offering free Student Loan Counselingincluding assistance with the IDR Account Adjustment process and loan consolidation–throughout the eight counties of Western New York along with expert strategies for attaining financial stability.

The experienced, certified financial counselors at Parachute will help WNY residents consolidate their loans and review other potential relief options and changes to existing programs available to help borrowers reduce or eliminate their debt. Now is the time for borrowers to seek free and unbiased counseling. Call 716-712-2060 or visit https://parachutecreditcounseling.org/ for more information on our Student Loan Counseling Program and other financial counseling services we provide.

Student Loan Update

45% of 18-35 Year Old NYS Residents Have Student Loan Debt

Bad News: Proposed Loan Forgiveness Program Struck Down by Supreme Court

Payments to Resume on October 1st

Good News: 12 Month Grace Period: Borrowers Will Not Be Penalized for Missing Payments

Income Driven Repayment (IDR) Plan Adjustment Extended BUT Help May Be Needed

Parachute Credit Counseling Offers FREE Assistance and Counseling, can help with IDR

Millions of Americans will soon resume paying their student loans, whether they want to or not. In a 6-3 decision on June 30th, the Supreme Court rejected the much hoped for, yet controversial, student loan forgiveness proposal.

There is hope that there may be other methods to facilitate student loan forgiveness but for now, there is much disappointment as interest will once again begin accruing on loan outstanding balances this September. Then, on October 1st, payments resume and 44 million Americans will be paying an average of $210 to $314 each month toward their loan balances (according to Wells Fargo).

In an effort to ease the transition to monthly payments, President Biden and the U.S. Department of Education stated that there will be a 12-month “on-ramp” period starting in October where “missed, partial, or late payments will not lead to negative credit reporting, default, or loans being sent to collection agencies.”

For the past three years, borrowers have had a pause in their student loan payments—with no interest accruing–due to the pandemic. This break let those with loans stay current on other bills and obligations, pay down other debt, or for some, build up their savings.  The resumption of loan payments is expected to have an adverse economic impact with a slow down in overall spending and an increase in defaults and forebearances. Never in the history of the federal student loan system have over 40 million borrowers simultaneously resumed repayment after a three-year hiatus.

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), about 20% of student loan borrowers have risk factors that indicate they could struggle when payments resume. More than 1 in 13 student loan borrowers are currently behind on other payment obligations, a rate higher than before the student loan pause started in March 2020 during the pandemic.

Student loan borrowers owe more in other debts now as well. The CFPB found that median scheduled payments on other debt obligations have increased by 24% for borrowers whose student loans will soon become due. In percentage terms, those increases are especially notable for younger borrowers—a whopping 252% increase from $65 to $229.

Income Driven Repayment (IDR) Plan/IDR Account Adjustment

Although student loan forgiveness is not imminent, there are positive options available for student loan borrowers. One of these is the the Income Driven Repayment (IDR) Plan/IDR Account Adjustment which was recently extended until December 31, 2023. Income Driven Repayment (IDR) Plans allow borrowers to make payments on their federal student loans according to a formula based on their income and family size—the payments are deliberately meant to be smaller. Ostensibly this program had been in place prior to the pandemic but there were major issues with it, resulting in few people actually receiving the proper help to enroll in this program.

Last year, the U.S. Department of Education implemented IDR Account Adjustment to help student loan borrowers benefit from the program as it was initially intended. The Department worked to remove the confusion surrounding the program, making it more accessible and available to student loan borrowers. It also conducted a one-time adjustment of IDR payments to address past inaccuracies and improved their previous subpar tracking procedures.

In final good news, there is no application required for the IDR Account Adjustment. Borrowers will automatically receive the benefits. A critical element, however, is that borrowers with non-Direct and non-government-held federal student loans need to consolidate those loans into the federal Direct consolidation program in order to benefit from the IDR Account Adjustment.

The U.S. Department of Education advises: “Borrowers who have commercially managed FFEL, Perkins, or Health Education Assistance Loan Program loans should apply for a Direct Consolidation Loan by the end of 2023 to get the full benefits of the one-time account adjustment.” Additional info available here: https://studentaid.gov/announcements-events/idr-account-adjustment

Parachute Credit Counseling—formerly known as Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Buffalo (CCCS)— recently announced that they are now offering free Student Loan Counseling throughout the eight counties of Western New York along with expert strategies for attaining financial stability.

The experienced, certified financial counselors at Parachute will help WNY residents consolidate their loans and review other potential relief options and changes to existing programs available to help borrowers reduce or eliminate their debt. Now is the time for borrowers to seek free and unbiased counseling.

Call 716-712-2060 or visit https://parachutecreditcounseling.org/services/ for more information on our Student Loan Counseling Program and other financial counseling services we provide.