It depends on what type of student loans you have. If you have private student loans there is not much you can do unless the lender is willing to work with you. However, it has been my experience that very often the debt collectors of private student loans violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) in the course of collecting on the loan, so if you are diligent in recording these telephone calls you may be able to create some leverage with the debt collector to work with you on a mutually agreeable payment plan.
If you have public student loans there are several programs that you may qualify for through the department of education:
-income contingent repayment plan (ICR)
-income based repayment plan (IBR)
Which of these strategies to implement will depend on several factors.
I would advise you to consult an attorney with experience in this area of the law. If you don't know one in your area go to the following website:
Even though they seem to think they can, these collectors can't get blood from a stone. If you can't pay them what they want, you can't, and that's that. There are unfortunately few legal recourses available, unless if you do have a a job and an income, a chapter 13 bankruptcy may buy you a few years to get your finances in order and pay them in that way. But it's tough. The law is made to benefit them, not you.
If these are federal loans there are repayment options under "Income Based Repayment" and "income contingent repayment" plan. You need to contact lender to obtain appropriate application forms and fill them out correctly, mail them in for processing.
If these are private loans, you're at the mercy of the lender as far as minimum payment goes. check out http://studentdebtcrisis.org/
I'm sorry you are dealing with this. I know it's very frightening to be in this situation. I know the collection calls are absolutely horrible. The agents simply don't give a damn other than to collect what is owed. I've heard of agents hanging up and transfering borrowers to a suicide hotline or telling them to go live under a bridge. There are millions of people dealing with this right now.