The U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid Ombudsman Group is an informal, neutral resource dedicated to helping borrowers resolve disputes related to their federal loans. These include Perkins Loans and Direct Loans. Interactions between student borrowers and the Ombudsman Group are confidential.
How the Ombudsman Group Can Help
The Ombudsman Group is a last resort when all other efforts to resolve a student loan dispute have been exhausted. After reaching out, you will be put in contact with an ombudsman, a third-party official appointed specifically to investigate student loan complaints. Since an ombudsman is neutral, they do not advocate in favor of your dispute, nor do they side with the loan service provider. The ombudsman views the situation without bias to come up with a suitable solution for both parties.
Although an ombudsman cannot overturn decisions, they can present an argument to a collection agency or lender to help borrowers see financial relief. The Ombudsman Group can help:
- Identify student loan repayment options
- Identify consolidation options
- Identify options for resolving issues related to bankruptcy, default, income tax refund offsets, and lender service quality
- Clarify requirements for loan cancellation, discharge, forbearance, or deferment
- Explain collection charges or loan interest
- Resolve payment or balance discrepancies
An ombudsman will not deal with complaints about grants or private student loans. They also cannot accept loan payments or defer a loan, as you will need to contact your loan provider for these options. Your ombudsman will not testify in court or serve as a witness, nor can they replace formal resolution channels with the U.S. Education Department.
Essentially, turning to the Ombudsman Group puts you in contact with a knowledgeable advisor who can help navigate the complicated world of student loans. They can be an invaluable resource when all other options to resolve your loan problems have failed.
How to Contact the Ombudsman Group
Before reaching out to the Ombudsman Group, have the following information at the ready:
- Your full name
- Social Security number
- Date of birth
- Name of the school you attended
- Name of the loan service provider or collection agency
- The type of loan being disputed
- What actions have been taken so far
- Whom else you have talked to about the problem and when
- What previous contacts told you regarding the loan issue
- Why the issue is a problem
- Relevant evidence, such as bills, correspondence, promissory notes, or canceled checks
- Proof of immediacy of need
You should also think about what you expect to achieve from contacting an ombudsman and what has prevented you from solving the issue until now.
After preparing your documentation, contact the Ombudsman Group through one of these channels:
U.S. Department of Education
FSA Ombudsman Group
P.O. Box 1843
Monticello, KY 42633
You can also complete a confidential and secure Ombudsman Assistance Request Form online.
Dealing with student loan issues can be frustrating and worrisome, but having a resource like the Ombudsman Group can help alleviate stress and get you back on track.