6 Tips to Avoid Wrangling with Your Student Loan Servicer

Last week I wrote about the lawsuit the federal government has brought against Navient, reportedly the country’s largest student loan servicer (and my own daughter’s).

A lot has been written about this lawsuit–and I want to make sure that Black Enterprise readers are informed. Black students are more likely to borrow to finance their education and to borrow higher amounts, so this information is critical to our community.

  1. Since Navient is so large, it just may be your loan servicer. Forbes reports that you can contact Navient at 1-888-272-5543 or by e-mail through Navient’s Office of the Customer Advocate.
  2. Navient has been accused of dirty dealing, including steering borrowers into less favorable repayment plans, making it difficult to remain in better plans, and even giving incorrect information to credit companies. If you’ve been at all affected by Navient’s alleged unscrupulous practices, you need to take action now by lodging a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
  3. Money‘s website also provides the following: “The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has a helpful repayment guide, as does the National Consumer Law Center’s Student Loan Borrower Assistance project. You can also read this step-by-step guide on what to do if your student loan servicer sucks.
  4. What else can you do? According to Rohit Chopra, a former student loan ombudsman interviewed by the New York Times, best practices for avoiding problems with your student loan servicer include not calling when you need to communicate with them. Instead, use the servicer’s own messaging system. Doing so will create a paper trail.
  5. If you’re in an income-driven repayment plan (which I’ve written about before), remember that you need to recertify your income each year. Don’t depend on your loan servicer to remind you. Set up an automatic reminder (technology may be helpful here), or write it down now on your calendar. If you don’t, your payments will increase dramatically and throw your budget out of whack.
  6. More advice from Chopra: Pay your debt using the servicer’s online interface; don’t use your bank’s bill pay function. This way you can see if your account is being credited as you requested.

Money called the Navient allegations “particularly nasty.” In light of these accusations, now is the time to be vigilant if you’ve previously been complacent. Click on all the links in this post, read them, and take action. Knowledge is power.