If your lender refuses to answer questions, will not work with you to set up a reasonable payment plan, and possibly violates debt collection laws, it’s important to know your rights. File a student loan complaint with the Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid Ombudsman Group to settle disputes related to your loans.
The Ombudsman Group serves as a mediator between students and loan service providers. It makes sure agreements are fair and students can follow a set payment schedule. Here’s what you need to know about filing a student loan complaint with this organization.
Make Efforts to Contact Your Lender
The first step toward checking your bills or working through a debt problem is to call your lender. It’s possible the bill wasn’t issued correctly or a mistake was made in your paperwork. Pull together documents you have with the expected bill and call or email your lender. You can also talk to your lender about any issues you might have with paying the bill, any changes you would like made to your payment plan, or any reasons to delay payment.
If contacting your lender proves unsuccessful, make sure you document your efforts to reach them. If you submit a complaint through a contact form, you might not receive an immediate response. However, if you call multiple customer service numbers throughout a week and still can’t get a clear answer, then your lender might be intentionally ignoring you or setting up roadblocks for your questions. Whenever you contact them, document the channel, result, and the names and titles of anyone you speak with. This creates a paper trail for others who review your case can follow.
Pull Your Information Together
If contacting your organization proves unsuccessful, the next step is to contact the Ombudsman Group. The organization has created a specific checklist to document violations and problems students have with their lenders. The more information you can pull together to make a case against your lender, the better. This is why it’s important to reach out multiple times and try to contact your lender in different ways. A few of the necessary pieces of information on the checklist include:
- What lender and type of loan are you paying off?
- Who have you talked to about the issue and what did they tell you?
- What relevant evidence do you have that can prove your case?
- Is there an immediate need to solve the issue? Can you prove that?
If you can clearly and thoroughly answer these questions, the Ombudsman Group should be able to mediate your case. However, if you lack the proper documentation and struggle to explain the problem, it might not prioritize your case. It may take time to assemble this paperwork, but putting together a strong case after a few weeks is better than immediately submitting an incomplete application.
Reach Out to the Ombudsman Group to Discuss Your Situation
Once you have all your information, the next step is to reach out to the Ombudsman Group. The organization allows students to file complaints by mail, fax, phone, or online form. Depending on the urgency of your complaint, you may want to submit your information online or by phone. Some students prefer to start the discussion with someone over the phone and then mail copies of documents to the headquarters in Kentucky.
Before you contact the group, follow this additional checklist to walk you through whether contacting this organization will help you solve your complaint. If the Ombudsman Group is unable to help you, then you might be wasting your time calling them just to get referred to a different organization or company.
Know the Ombudsman Group’s Limitations
Before you begin the process of filing a complaint, make sure you know what the Ombudsman Group can do to help you. While this organization helps students and alumni with their loans throughout the year, it might not immediately take your side. If you have a legally binding agreement that the lender is following, then you might not have a case for change. Furthermore, the Ombudsman Group cannot:
- Make binding decisions or overturn the decisions of lenders.
- Accept complaints about grants or private student loans.
- Serve as a witness in a student loan case.
The people within this organization work as mediators between two entities. Once a compromise has been made through the group, it’s up to both parties to create a new agreement and follow it until the debt is paid.
Disputes related to student loan payment can leave people stressed and uncertain about their financial futures. By taking these steps, you can quickly work to resolve disputes and come to fair agreements about what is best for you and the lender.