Much has been said about the rising student debt in this country. And the state of New Jersey is no different, with the average New Jersey borrower carrying roughly $36,000 in student debt, for a total of $1.7 billion in outstanding loan balances.

Especially at a time like this, this can be devastating and frustrating. First of all, people have less money in their pockets to begin with during the Pandemic. Secondly, the student loan landscape is such a quagmire to begin with, that with the new COVID-19 rules including forgiveness and forbearance, there’s absolutely no way to figure your way out of this mess without an expert. Enter the expert.

According to an article on NJ1015.com by Jenn Ursillo, because of a new law that has taken effect in New Jersey, the Department of Banking and Insurance has finally begun to regulate student loans. And it’s about time, too, after so many New Jersey students and their parents have fallen victim to predatory loan practices. This law is not only designed to protect student loan borrowers against deceptive practices by loan servicers, but it also adds a new position, Student Loan Ombudsman, to be an advocate for your loan issues.

Raghu Kakumanu, who has been named to the post, or one of his staff will answer questions, mediate disputes, address errors and/or problems, and will just generally hold your hand through the extremely daunting tangle of bureaucracy that is the student loan. You can contact the office at the hotline: 1-800-446-7467. And while I’m not a great fan of government programs, this is one that is long overdue and should serve to help so many borrowers throughout New Jersey both now and in the future.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Judi Franco. Any opinions expressed are Judi's own.