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How to Lodge a Student Loan Complaint

April 5, 2016
Loans, Student Loans
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When you can’t work things out with your private loan servicer, one recourse is to file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Consider making a formal complaint if you’re faced with aggressive collection tactics, incorrect account balances, inaccurate credit reporting regarding your loan, a loan that’s erroneously been placed into default, uncooperative customer service, or other bad behavior. More than 5,000 such complaints were filed with the CFPB in 2015, NerdWallet found.

The CFPB is the only federal regulator with the authority to supervise the entire student loan servicing market, including nonbank companies, which handle more than 90% of new loans, according to the bureau.

If you have issues with your private loan servicer, submit a complaint using the CFPB’s complaint form. The CFPB will then forward the grievance to the company listed for a response. If you prefer not to lodge a formal complaint, you can still provide information about your experience with student loans using the bureau’s “Tell Your Story” option.

If you have a problem with a federal loan — for example, a Perkins loan, a guaranteed student loan or one distributed through the former Federal Family Education Loan program — the Federal Student Aid Ombudsman Group is the place to lodge a complaint. However, the ombudsman group is considered a last resort after you’ve attempted to resolve loan problems with your loan servicer directly.

If your federal or private loan has fallen into debt collection, you can lodge your complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

Ensure that you’ve kept a record of communications with your loan servicer. If you need guidance on what to keep track of, refer to the Federal Student Aid Ombudsman Information Checklist.

A new complaint system is coming to the U.S. Department of Education through the Student Aid Bill of Rights, issued in March 2015 in a presidential memorandum. The new website, which is expected to be completed by July 1, is meant to give debt holders a new way “to file complaints and provide feedback about federal student loan lenders, servicers, collections agencies and institutions of higher education.” The Department of Education will be responsible for pursuing complaints for resolution.

Victoria Simons is a data associate at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: [email protected]. Anna Helhoski is a staff writer at NerdWallet. Email: [email protected]. Twitter: @AnnaHelhoski.

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