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DFPI: Protecting Californians With Student Loans

Student Loan Empowerment Network is a network of community-based and legal aid organizations organizations that provides free assistance to Californians struggling to understand and pay off their student loan debts. California residents with any amount of current student loan debt are eligible to access resources through the network. Borrowers looking for assistance through SLE Network can fill out an intake form at or call (888) 774-2227. From there, borrowers will be connected to a network coordinator who will refer them to a SLE Network organization based on their assistance concerns and location.

Resource Materials

NCLC Student Loan Toolkit – This comprehensive guide explains the basics of the student loan system, how to assess your own student loan situation, and your options for managing your student loan debt.

California Student Borrower Bill of Rights – This one-page flyer summarizes the California Student Borrower Bill of Rights established by Assembly Bill 376. English Version | Spanish Version

DFPI “Know Before You Owe” Flyer – This one-page flyer summarizes the key terms you need to know before signing on to any student loan commitments. English Version | Spanish Version

Additional DFPI Student Loan Flyers – These flyers are helpful guides to important terms, tips, and resources for navigating the world of student loans. Student Loans – The Information You Need

Public Service Loan Forgiveness Help Tool – This online tool from the U.S. Department of Education guides you through the PSLF form and submission process, including actions you can take to become eligible for PSLF and help determine whether you work for a qualifying employer.

Federal Student Aid Loan Simulator – This online tool from the U.S. Department of Education helps you calculate student loan payments and choose a loan repayment option that best meets your needs and goals. You can also use it to decide whether to consolidate your student loans.

Resources for Military Service Members and Veterans – This online resource from Veterans Education Success provides free advice to military servicemembers and veterans on how to lower their monthly student loan payments as well as help with getting their loans reduced or even forgiven.

Managing Your Student Loans Podcast Episodes – This three-episode series is part of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Financial inTuition podcast. Learn more about managing student loans and money while in college, including the Veterans Benefits Administration’s GI Bill® Comparison Tool, Your Financial Path to Graduation Tool, and postgraduate degree repayment options.

Student Loan Terms You Should Know

  • Capitalization – Unpaid interest added onto the loan balance after periods of nonpayment (grace period, forbearance, and deferment). Capitalization increases
    loan’s principal balance and interest is charged on the new, larger balance. 
  • Consolidation – The process that allows borrowers to combine several federal student loans into one larger loan. This may add to the overall cost of the loan.
  • Default – A borrower can be declared in default if a payment has not been made in more than 270 days. Once in default, the entire balance of the loan becomes immediately due. This is called acceleration. Collection action can begin through wage garnishment or withholding federal tax payments.
  • Deferment – A temporary postponement of payment on a loan that is allowed under certain conditions and during which interest generally does not accrue.
  • Delinquency – When a federal student loan has one or more missed payments fewer than 270 days late (federal loans). At the 90-day mark, federal loan servicers report late payments to the 3 major credit bureaus.
  • Discretionary income: The difference between your annual income and 225 percent of the poverty guideline for your family size and state of residence.
  • Grace Period – A set period of time after you graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment before repayment begins.
  • Income-driven repayment (IDR): A type of payment plan that sets your monthly student loan payment at an amount that is intended to be affordable based on your income and family size.
  • Interest – The amount of money a lender or financial institution charges for allowing customers to borrow money. Student loan interest is set by Congress and accrues daily.
  • Lender – A company or organization lending you the money. They “originate” the loan. 
  • Loan term: The length of time it will take to repay your student loan debt based on your chosen payment plan.
  • Servicer – The company that collects payments on a loan, responds to customer inquiries and performs other administrative tasks associated with a student loan. The loan servicer should work with you on identifying all repayment plans and forgiveness options. The servicer is the borrower’s main point of contact. A loan may be transferred to several servicers throughout the life of the loan.
  • Forbearance – A temporary postponement or reduction of student loan payments. Interest is charged during a forbearance.  



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Visit Our YouTube Channel

Californians with Student Loans Webinar Series – This webinar series from the DFPI helps you manage your student loans and navigate through important deadlines and guideline changes. Each webinar features various subject matter experts from the California Office of Student Assistance and Relief (OSAR), Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Student Borrower Protection Center (SBPC), and others. We encourage you to check here regularly for new topics as they arise.

Online Resources


California Federation of Teachers

The California Federation of Teachers (CFT) is a teachers’ union representing more than 120,000 educational employees working at every level of public and private education from Head Start to the University of California. In all segments of education, the CFT is committed to promoting high-quality education and to securing the conditions necessary to provide the best services to California’s students.



CalKIDS is a California state program that helps children save for college or career training after high school. Children born in California starting on July 1, 2022, and eligible low-income public school students are awarded a CalKIDS college savings account with an initial deposit in it.  This program that can provide parents/caregivers with a starting point to save for their children’s education so they can have a better future.


The California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet) works to serve California veterans and their families. With nearly 1.6​ million veterans living in the State, CalVet strives to ensure that its veterans of every era and their families get the state and federal benefits and services they have earned and deserve as a result of selfless and honorable military service. CalVet strives to serve veterans and their families with dignity and compassion and to help them achieve their highest quality of life.

U.S. Department of Education - Federal Student Aid

The U.S. Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid provides more than $120 billion in financial aid to help pay for college or career school each year. It also provides other resources and answers your most pressing questions.

California Student Aid Commission

The California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) is the principal state agency responsible for administering financial aid programs for students attending public and private universities, colleges, and vocational schools in California. CSAC’s mission is to make education beyond high school financially accessible to all Californians and provides information to college bound and current college students about available federal and state financial aid.

California Office of Student Assistance and Relief

The California Office of Student Assistance and Relief (OSAR) provides prospective students information on making informed decisions when choosing a college and also information on their rights when attending a private college. OSAR provides current and past students of private colleges information about their rights, filing a school complaint, and resources available to them (including potential reimbursement from the Student Tuition Recovery Fund). OSAR also provides one-on-one guidance to help students access State and federal relief programs, and free nonprofit resources.

California Student Opportunity and Access Program (Cal-SOAP Consortium)

The California Student Opportunity and Access Program (Cal-SOAP) was established by the state legislature in 1978. Today, Cal-SOAP is instrumental in improving the flow of information about postsecondary education and financial aid while raising the achievement levels of low-income, elementary and secondary school students or geographic regions with documented low-eligibility or college participation rates, and who are first in their families to attend college.

Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs

San Francisco Office of Financial Empowerment

The Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE) is a unique private-public partnership housed within the Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector of San Francisco that convenes, innovates and advocates to strengthen economic security and mobility of all San Franciscans. For more than a decade, under the leadership of Treasurer José Cisneros, the OFE has engaged partners inside and outside City Hall to equip San Franciscans with knowledge, skills and resources to strengthen their financial health and well-being. At the same time, the OFE has leveraged what has worked on the ground to model what is possible across the country.


Bay Area Legal Aid

BayLegal’s mission is to provide meaningful access to the civil justice system through quality legal assistance regardless of a client’s location, language or disability.

Community Legal Aid Southern California

Community Legal Aid SoCal fights injustice and advocates for social, economic, and racial equity by providing compassionate, holistic, and impactful legal services.

Inland Counties Legal Services, Inc.

Since 1958, Inland Counties Legal Services has led the effort to advocate and provide free legal services to residents that are low-income, seniors, and with disabilities in San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. We target services to those in the greatest social and economic need.

Housing and Economic Rights Advocates (HERA)

HERA is a California statewide, not-for-profit legal service and advocacy organization dedicated to helping Californians — particularly those most vulnerable — build a safe, sound financial future, free of discrimination and economic abuses, in all aspects of household financial concerns. They provide free legal services, consumer workshops, training for professionals and community organizing support, create innovative solutions and engage in policy work locally, statewide and nationally.

Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles

Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles’ consumer work focuses on assisting clients who cannot afford to repay their student loans and/or have attended for-profit colleges that engaged in predatory, deceptive, or illegal practices.

National Consumer Law Center

Since 1969, the nonprofit National Consumer Law Center® (NCLC®) has used its expertise in consumer law and energy policy to work for consumer justice and economic security for low-income and other disadvantaged people, including older adults, in the U.S.

Public Counsel

Our diverse team of attorneys, paralegals, social workers, and organizers works to protect the legal rights of disadvantaged children; represents immigrants, including those who have been the victims of torture, persecution, trafficking, and other crimes; and fosters economic justice by providing individuals and institutions in underserved communities with access to quality legal representation.

Public Law Center

The Public Law Center’s 35 staff members work with over 1,500 Orange County lawyers, paralegals, law students and other volunteers annually to provide free civil legal services, including: counseling, individual representation, community education, and strategic litigation and advocacy to challenge societal injustices.

The Legal Aid Association of California (LAAC)

The Legal Aid Association of California (LAAC) is the statewide membership organization for the almost 100 nonprofits funded through IOLTA (Interest on Lawyer Trust Account) grants by the State Bar of California.


California Asset Building Coalition

The California Asset Building Coalition (CABC) consists of hundreds of diverse leaders across the state joined together to make California’s economy work for communities targeted by oppressive and extractive systems like poverty and racism. We identify and employ multiple and intersecting strategies to build economic security and power where they are most needed.

California Association of Nonprofits (CalNonprofits)

The California Association of Nonprofits (CalNonprofits) is a statewide membership organization that brings nonprofits together to advocate for the communities we serve. 

The Nonprofit Student Debt Project is a CalNonprofits initiative to educate nonprofit staff and employers, advocate for public policy changes, and engage our community on the problem of student debt and its impact on the nonprofit workforce. CalNonprofits Members now have FREE access to online tools from Summer – a website that takes your unique information and provides recommendations and information for lowering your monthly payments and enrolling in Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

California Competes

California Competes is a nonpartisan policy and research organization focused on identifying solutions to the state’s most critical challenges at the intersection of higher education, equity, and the economy.

Los Angeles Veterans Collaborative

The Los Angeles Veterans Collaborative is a network of public, private, and government agencies working together to reduce suffering and improve the lives of veterans, service members, and military families in LA County. This is achieved through strategically improving and coordinating their access to services, reducing barriers to care, and influencing policy.

Stockton Scholars

Stockton Scholars aim to guide young people in Stockton towards an impactful life through education. Every young person has the opportunity to rise above their circumstances and find their place in the world. Making an impact means participating in meaningful work and contributing back to our community.

Student Borrower Protection Center

The Student Borrower Protection Center is a nonprofit organization focused on alleviating the burden of student debt for millions of Americans. The SBPC engages in advocacy, policymaking, and litigation strategy to rein in industry abuses, protect borrowers’ rights, and advance economic opportunity for the next generation of students.

The Institute of Student Loan Advisors Corporation (TISLA)

TISLA was founded to ensure that all student loan borrowers have access to free, neutral and clear student loan advice and dispute resolution assistance. They are a non-profit that believes borrowers have a right to a trusted resource with industry experience to mentor, educate and advocate for them.


  • Offer expert advice on your student loans
  • Help you decide which repayment plan make the most sense for you
  • Determine if you are eligible for loan forgiveness or discharge
  • Offer guidance in any dispute you may have regarding your student loans
  • Guide you through completing required forms and applications
  • Help you get out of a default or delinquency status

The Institute of College Access and Success (TICAS)

Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC)

The PPIC Higher Education Center advances practical solutions that enhance educational opportunities for California’s students—improving lives and expanding economic growth across the state.

UC Berkeley Center for Consumer Law and Economic Justice

The UC Berkeley Center for Consumer Law & Economic Justice works to establish fair and equal access to a marketplace free from fraud and predatory practices. Through research, advocacy, and teaching, the Center builds toward a society where economic security and opportunity are available to all.

Veterans Education Success

Veterans Education Success is a nonprofit organization comprised of bipartisan policy experts, academic researchers, lawyers, advocates, Veterans and non-Veterans dedicated to bridging the military-civilian divide to ensure career and education success for military families. They provide free legal casework assistance to veterans and service members who have student loans. Veterans Education Success also provides information on loan discharge.

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Last updated: Jul 8, 2024 @ 1:24 pm