Finding Legal Assistance
There are limited legal resources to assist student loan borrowers, but some options do exist. There are organizations in every state and most communities which provide free legal help to people whose incomes fall below certain amounts. You can find local free legal help at LawHelp.org.
Some free legal organizations are listed below.This is not an exhaustive list.
- Alabama: Legal Services of Alabama
- Arizona: Community Legal Services, Statewide Consumer Law Project
- Statewide: Housing and Economic Rights Advocates (HERA)
- Northern CA: Bay Area Legal Aid (serves Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, Santa Clara, San Francisco, and San Mateo counties)
- Berkeley: East Bay Community Law Center, Consumer Justice Practice
- Los Angeles: Legal Services Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA)
- Orange County and surrounding areas: Public Law Center, Consumer Law Unit
- San Diego County: Legal Aid Society of San Diego, Consumer Protection Division
- Florida: Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida
- Georgia: Atlanta Legal Aid Society (serves Atlanta area, including Clayton, S. Fulton, Dekalb, Gwinnett, and Cobb counties)
- Iowa: Iowa Legal Aid
- Maine: Pine Tree Legal Assistance
- Maryland: Civil Justice, Inc. (Baltimore)
- Massachusetts: Project on Predatory Student Lending (Boston)
- Michigan: Legal Aid of Western Michigan (serves 17 counties in West Michigan; see here for details)
- Minnesota: Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid (Minneapolis)
- Montana: Montana Legal Services Association
- Nebraska: Legal Aid of Nebraska
- Nevada: Nevada Legal Services
- New York:
- EDCAP – Education Debt Consumer Assistance Project (statewide)
- Legal Services NYC (NYC)
- Mobilization for Justice (NYC)
- New York Legal Assistance Group, For-Profit Schools Project (NYC)
- Legal Assistance of Western New York (14 counties of Western New York)
- Neighborhood Legal Services (Buffalo, Niagara Falls, and Batavia area)
- Empire Justice Center (Albany & Capital District)
- Legal Services of Central New York (13 counties of Central New York)
- Legal Aid Society of Mid-New York (13 counties of upstate New York)
- North Carolina: Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy (Charlotte and Mecklenburg County)
- Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, Economic Justice Group
- Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati (serves Brown, Butler, Clermont, Clinton, Hamilton, Highland, and Warren Counties)
- Legal Aid Society of Columbus (serves people in Columbus, and people in Franklin, Madison, Delaware, Marion, Morrow, and Union counties)
- Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, Inc. (Philadelphia)
- North Western Legal Services (serves Cameron, Crawford, Elk, Erie, Forest, Mercer, McKean, Potter, Venango, and Warren counties)
- South Carolina: South Carolina Legal Services
- Tennessee: West Tennessee Legal Services
- Texas: Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (serving 68 counties in Texas)
- Virginia: Legal Aid Society of Roanoke Valley (serves Roanoke, Botetourt, Franklin, Craig and Bedford Counties)
- Washington D.C.: Neighborhood Legal Services Program
- Wisconsin: Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee (Milwaukee)
Many legal aid programs are funded by the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), an independent nonprofit established by Congress to provide financial support for civil legal aid to low-income Americans. LSC provides funding to 134 independent nonprofit legal aid organizations in every state, the District of Columbia, and U.S. Territories. Borrowers can find LSC-funded legal aid organizations in their area at LSC’s web site or by calling (202) 295-1500.
If you cannot find a legal services organization in your area, try asking a local social services or consumer protection agency for referrals. LawHelp.org also helps low and moderate income people find free legal aid referrals. Court clerks often have information about legal services programs as well.
All states have consumer protection agencies, listed here.
For consumer law problems, borrowers should also look up the National Association of Consumer Advocates (NACA) list of members. NACA’s list is divided by region and by area of practice. The members also rate their level of experience in different consumer areas. Contact NACA by calling (202) 452-1989 or check out the NACA website. Another helpful resource is The National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, which provides referral lists for local bankruptcy lawyers. Find out more by calling 202-331-8005.