3 On Your Side

Dealing with student debt drama

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A Valley woman is dealing with thousands of dollars in student debt drama.

Tanya Monroe says there's nothing like being a mother. And when she's not busy taking care of her child, Monroe says she likes to cook. "I’ve always loved cooking and being in the kitchen."

She thought it was a good idea to enroll in culinary school where she could earn a degree in just 9 months. "Every class was a couple thousand dollars, a knife kit, and all the little things I had to buy for school."

Monroe finished all of her classes and earned her degree but in doing so she also racked up a hefty federal student loan debt. "I owe $22,000 total," she says.

That's a lot of money, and Monroe says she found it difficult to pay back.

So she went online to see if there was a way to make her debt more manageable. And that's when she started communicating with a company called Document Aid Relief.

According to information sent to her, Document Aid Relief said it could "... assist you in minimizing or removing this financial obligation." But in order to do that, Document Aid Relief said it needed money up front.

"They found my student loans and said for the $600 we can forgive your loans and you don't have to pay anything for the next 300 months and they're forgiven after that," Monroe says.

Monroe was skeptical at first but still filled out paperwork and agreed to send 3 separate payments to Document Aid Relief totaling $599. The company in turn sent her documents reassuring her that: "Document Aid Relief is in the business of improving client's Federal Student Loan repayment terms".. by using resources and  "programs offered through the Department of Education."

What Monroe didn't realize, though, when she signed up with Document Aid Relief, is that the U.S. Department of Education offers ‘free’ assistance to help lower monthly student loan repayment plans.

In some cases, the Department of Education can consolidate federal loans and even check to see if people like Monroe qualify for loan forgiveness.

Felicia Thompson is with the Phoenix Better Business Bureau. "I think it's important for people to know that debt forgiveness for student loans is something that's not fast and it's not easy. So if someone is using those sensational words to get your attention like, 'free, guaranteed, fast and easy,' those are huge red flags because it's not a simple process."

3 On Your Side tried to contact Document Aid Relief. We wanted to see know if they would consider returning Monroe's money but the company failed to get back with us.

However the U.S. Department of Education is talking, and sent this email telling 3 On Your Side , saying: "The Department does not have a relationship with Document Aid Relief or any other for-profit debt consolidator of this nature."

Monroe says she would have been better off taking the $600 she paid Document Aid Relief and paying down her student loan instead. "When you have lots of debt from being young and stupid it builds up fast."

The U-S Department of Education provided 3 On Your Side quite a bit of information about how to manage student loans. For details visit the following links:






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