Filing Student Loan Complaints: When, How, and Why

Henry & DeGraaff, PS

At the behest of both parents and society, younger generations have ambitiously and unhesitatingly pursued college degrees, resulting in a U.S. population that is more educated than ever before.

Student loan debt, however, is now one of the biggest crises of our times. Tuition has skyrocketed in recent decades, but wages have remained stagnant, and so have job opportunities.

College graduates are now underemployed, meaning:

  • They are working for fewer hours than they want or need to; and/or
  • Their only available options are positions in retail or food service, even though they have the qualifications and skills needed for more specialized work.

If this describes your situation, you have enough on your plate without having to worry about whether your student loan servicer is doing their job. But your servicer may not fulfill their legal obligations, in which case you have every right to hold them accountable by filing a complaint.

Let’s take a look at when you should file a complaint, how to do so, and what you can expect after filing.

When to File

Although you aren’t paying your student loan servicer to handle your payments and manage other loan-related matters, they still must respect your rights and closely follow certain legal procedures.

You may have grounds to file a complaint if your student loan servicer:

  • Assesses a fee more than 45 days after the fee was incurred
  • Fails to explain the fee to you within 30 days of assessing the fee
  • Takes longer than one business day to accept and credit any of your payments
  • Fails to make a reasonable attempt to provide the information you requested regarding your account
  • Fails (or takes too long) to correct their errors or refund incorrectly assessed fees
  • Fails to explain their decisions regarding your request for a loan discharge or refund
  • Takes longer than 15 business days to provide information when you submit a written request for more details about a loan-related matter
  • Provides false or misleading information

If a new servicer takes over the right to service your loan, you may have grounds to file a complaint if the new servicer:

  • Takes longer than 45 days to inform you that they are now your loan servicer
  • Takes longer than 45 days to provide information about how to contact them or request information about the loan
  • Changes the terms or conditions of your loan agreement upon becoming your servicer
  • Cancels or otherwise changes the status of your pending loan modification request upon becoming your servicer

If you have experienced any of the above issues, you should first attempt to resolve it informally by contacting your loan servicer. You can then file a complaint if your servicer does not correct the problem, or if you are otherwise dissatisfied with their response.

How to File

Visit the Federal Student Aid Ombudsman Information Checklist for a comprehensive list of documents and other evidence you may need to file a complaint.

This documentation may include:

  • Any correspondence between you and your servicer
  • Documents describing the issue
  • Documents describing your attempts to address the issue

If you’ve already contacted your servicer, your next step will be to file a complaint with the servicer’s Ombudsman. The Ombudsman Group is a confidential, impartial resource that resolves issues, identifies solutions, explains loan-related matters, and more.

If the Ombudsman cannot assist you, you will need to file a formal complaint with:

If you have an issue with a company that is NOT your loan servicer (such as a third-party loan modification company), file your complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

What to Expect After Filing

This is the most unpredictable aspect of the complaint process. The exact timeline will depend on the issue at hand, the agency through which you filed a complaint, and many other factors. Generally, you should receive confirmation of your complaint submission, and some agencies will take longer than others to respond. You may receive a request for additional information, but the likelihood of this extra step will be fairly low if you submitted comprehensive details and evidence with your initial complaint.

For more information about the student loan complaint process, check out this module by the Washington Student Achievement Council.

Bring Your Grievances to Our Law Firm

Unfortunately, a formal complaint may not resolve your issue. This is when you may need to turn to an experienced attorney for consumer protection litigation services. At Seattle Consumer Justice, our lawyers have years of experience advising and advocating for student loan borrowers. Many law firms shy away from student loan-related litigation, but we will never hesitate to handle a complex case and take it all the way to the courtroom. Whether you need debt-relief assistance, defense against collection agencies, or fierce representation during a dispute, we are the legal team you need.

Give us a call at (206) 483-0505 or contact us online today.

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