During a negotiation, two or more parties discuss certain mutually satisfactory conditions to resolve a certain issue. Students can also negotiate with their lenders about loans that they find difficulty in repaying. Loan negotiations cannot result in complete elimination of the loan, but the student may get a reduction in the rate of interest or longer tenure of repayment or some other such concession.
Debt negotiations are best done by a third, mutually neutral party. There are negotiating agencies that study the case of the student who has taken the loan and then discuss with the lenders, trying to get as much benefit as possible for the student. Negotiators work on behalf of both the lender and the borrower and a successful negotiation is one in which both the parties are satisfied with the agreed conditions.
Usually, when a student decides to enter into negotiations, there are already stalled payments. But the very act of entering into a negotiation indicates that the student is willing to repay some of the debt. However, a student must resort to negotiation only as a last measure. Lending agencies have no wish to enter into negotiations, as there is no logical reason for them to settle for anything less than what is due to them.
Debt negotiators do not come cheap. The biggest qualification of a debt negotiator is that they carry some clout and are experienced in matters of loan financing. Most debt negotiators charge their fees upfront, or at least 60% in advance. This is a huge setback for student borrowers who are already deep in debt and in fact, defeats the entire purpose of negotiation. Negotiators are not very transparent in their dealings and let the student debtors know only what they need to know. These are dangerous issues and there may be unsettled dues towards the negotiators even after the debt has been long settled.
Students can perform their negotiations themselves, thus eliminating the need of negotiators. A negotiating agency won’t do much more than what the students can do themselves. If there was a guarantor involved during the processing of the loan (which is now obligatory under Federal Family Education Loan Programs), then debt negotiations become simpler. Students can negotiate on any loan amount, but the decision of acceding to the negotiations lies in the hands of the lenders.