A reader has heard about "secret government programs." He might be right.

Question: Are there really “secret government programs” to get out of debt? I see a lot of commercials advertising things like this, but I’m skeptical. If this is true, who are these programs for? If I sign up for them, do I have to pay anything? Where will my money go? How can a government program get me out of debt anyway? The more I think about it, the more the whole thing seems to good to be true.

— Paul in Virginia

Howard Dvorkin CPA answers…

Yes, there really are “secret government programs” to get you out of debt — which is depressing, because these programs aren’t meant to be secret. The federal government has, by its own admission, done a poor job advertising them.

Specifically, these programs are intended to relieve the awful impact of $1.4 trillion in student loan debt. That’s more than all the credit card debt in the nation. Why would the federal government want to help you with your student loans? Simple, it has a vested interest.

As Debt.com has reported, the crushing burden of student loans has meant millennials aren’t buying houses as soon as they’d like, which could slow the economy. Those with student loans are also taking more time to pay them back, which means more Americans will spend more time in debt. I’ve even written that if student loans caused another recession, “I won’t be shocked.”

For these dire reasons and a few more, the federal government offers a slew of programs that can reduce your monthly payments. Back in August, another reader asked me a similar question to yours, Paul. He wrote…

I’ve heard there are programs that lower your payments, but I also hear there are a lot of scams out there. … So are there really government programs? And if there are, why doesn’t the government ever mention it?

You can read my reply by clicking Does The Government REALLY Want To Help Me Pay Off My Student Loans? In a nutshell, a government report admitted that these programs might as well be secret because the promotion of them has been so poor. It urged “streamlined processes” and “enhanced communications” to reach more Americans. However, the government isn’t known for exceptional marketing skills, especially when it uses terms like “streamlined processes.”

If you want to know more, check out Debt.com’s special report, How to Pay Off Student Loans Fast. What you’ll quickly realize is that the government’s student loan programs are about as complicated as a federal income tax return. If you can navigate the IRS with ease, then you can find the right student loan program for yourself. If you hire a CPA to help you with your taxes, there are thankfully student loan experts who do the same. Debt.com can make an introduction if you’d like.

Sorry for the long answer to your short question, Paul. When it comes to the government, it’s seldom an easy explanation.

Have a debt question?

Email your question to editor@debt.com and Howard Dvorkin will review it. Dvorkin is a CPA, chairman of Debt.com, and author of two personal finance books, Credit Hell: How to Dig Yourself Out of Debt and Power Up: Taking Charge of Your Financial Destiny.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and/or policies of Debt.com.

Meet the Author

Howard Dvorkin, CPA

Howard Dvorkin, CPA

CPA and Chairman

Dvorkin is the author of Credit Hell and Power Up and Chairman of Debt.com.

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Article last modified on January 2, 2019 Published by Debt.com, LLC . Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: Is The Government Hiding Ways For Us To Get Out Of Debt? - AMP.