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. This is not an exhaustive list.
- 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
- Iowa: Iowa Legal Aid
- Maine: Pine Tree Legal Assistance
- Maryland: Civil Justice, Inc. (Baltimore)
- Massachusetts: Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School, Project on Predatory Student Lending (Boston)
- Minnesota: Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid (Minneapolis)
- Nebraska: Legal Aid of Nebraska
- New York:
- North Carolina: Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy (Charlotte and Mecklenburg County)
- Pennsylvania: Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, Inc. (Philadelphia)
- Tennessee: West Tennessee Legal Services
- Virginia: Legal Aid Society of Roanoke Valley (serves Roanoke, Botetourt, Franklin, Craig and Bedford Counties)
- 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.