It’s bad enough students are graduating from college with massive debt: Some loan servicers are making a tough situation worse.

According to a new report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, some student loan servicers are unfairly denying or failing to approve qualified students’ affordable payment plans. The CFPB not only called their practices sloppy and callous, but illegal.

The consequences are huge. Students can get stuck with payment plans they can ill afford and end up defaulting on their loans. How can students avoid getting taken advantage of?

  • Know your rights

Read your loan documents closely. The terms are spelled out there.

  • Explore options

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College loans allow several repayment options, such as extended repayment, graduated repayment and income-driven repayment plans. A good source of information is www.studentaid.ed.gov.

  • Look out for hidden risks

“Students can get a short-term suspension of the repayment through a deferment or forbearance, but the interest will continue to accumulate and will be added to the loan balance if not repaid as it accrues,” says Mark Kantrowitz, publisher and vice president of strategy of cappex.com, a college information site.