How to file a complaint about your student loan servicer | finder.com
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How to file a complaint against your student loan servicer

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Get help settling disputes or raising awareness of bad business practices.

Filing a complaint with a third-party organization like the CFPB or FTC can help you and your student loan servicer come to an agreement on a wide range of disputes — from incorrect balances to issues with deferment. It also provides government agencies with data they can use to change laws and prevent these issues from happening again.

How can I file a complaint against my servicer?

If you can’t successfully resolve your issue directly with the student loan servicer, submit a complaint through four main avenues:

  • Your servicer’s ombudsman or customer service team
  • Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)
  • Federal Student Aid (FSA) Ombudsman Group
  • Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

5 steps to take before filing a complaint

Each option has its own procedure, but taking the following steps can smooth the process.

How to resolve the issue with your servicer

  • Eligible loans: Federal and private student loans

Many student loan servicers work with a third party to resolve disputes internally. This third party is often called the ombudsman or office of consumer advocate. While each servicer has its own process for filing a complaint, you can typically do so by submitting an official form. Many servicers include a PDF on their website outlining the procedure with contact information. Others might require you to email for details.

A third party is considered the first step in complaining about a servicer and finding resolution to your issue. Some agencies that handle complaints might require you to show that you’ve tried to resolve the problem with the company first.

What happens if I can’t find the ombudsman’s contact information?

Some servicers’ websites are more difficult to navigate than others. But you can start with three steps:

  1. Log in to your account. A lot of servicers protect information behind a password, so you might be able to find contact information after logging in to your account.
  2. Call customer service. If your servicer really doesn’t provide information online about an ombudsman or consumer advocate, call the general customer service number and ask where you can send a complaint.
  3. Skip ahead and contact an outside agency. If your servicer’s customer service team gives you the runaround, consider filing a complaint with one of the three agencies below. Explain that you made an unsuccessful attempt to resolve the issue with your servicer.

How to file a complaint with the CFPB

  • Eligible loans: Federal and private student loans

Filing a complaint with the CFPB can result in this regulatory agency contacting your servicer directly. It also contributes to the CFPB’s complaint database, which it uses to shape policy and inform government actions against companies, including student loan servicers. While you can file complaints for both federal and private student loans, this option generally works best for private student loans.

File a complaint against your private student loan servicer by following these steps:

  1. Go to the CFPB website.
  2. Click Submit a Complaint at top right, and then click Start a new complaint.
  3. Review the steps you need to take to submit a complaint. Click Start your complaint.
  4. Under What is this complaint about?, select Student loan.
  5. Follow the directions to submit information about the type of loan you have, the school you attended and your dispute.
  6. Upload relevant documents supporting your case.
  7. Review the details of your complaint and submit it.

How to file a complaint with the FSA Ombudsman Group

  • Eligible loans: Federal student loans

Filing a complaint against your servicer through the FSA Ombudsman Group is a solid option for federal loan holders. This agency reviews your complaint and either works with the company to resolve the issue or refers you to another government agency.

Here’s how to get started:

  1. Review the FSA Ombudsman information checklist on the FSA website and gather necessary information and documents.
  2. Go to the FSA Feedback System website and click Begin.
  3. Either log in with your FSA ID or follow the instructions to file a complaint without it.
  4. Select Repaying My Aid and click Continue.
  5. Click Dealing With My Servicer and click Continue.
  6. Provide details about yourself and the issue you’re having with the servicer.
  7. Upload supporting documents and click Continue.
  8. Review your complaint and check the box certifying that the information is correct. Click Submit.

How to file a complaint with the FSA Ombudsman Group offline

If you’d rather not submit a complaint online, you have options for mail, phone and fax.

How to file a complaint with the FTC

  • Eligible loans: Loans that have gone into collection

If you’re dealing with a loan that’s handled by a debt collector, you can file a complaint against the company with the FTC. Otherwise, stick with the two options above.

The FTC won’t take action against the company, but it can offer recommendations for resolving your complaint. Your complaint is also added to a database shared with the CFPB, the Better Business Bureau and more than 20 state attorneys general offices, which can affect government policy.

Follow five steps to get started:

  1. Go to the FTC Complaint Assistant website.
  2. Select Credit and debt in the left menu.
  3. Select Something else.
  4. Provide details about yourself and your servicer.
  5. Review and edit your answers. Click Submit.

What happens after I file a complaint?

It depends on where you file the complaint. If you complain to your servicer, the CFPB or the FSA Ombudsman Group, it reviews your complaint and contacts the servicer to get its side of the story. The agency then tries to come up with a resolution close to what you’ve requested in your complaint — within reason.

If you file a complaint with the FTC, it offers recommendations for resolving the issue, though it won’t take action against the servicer itself.

Read more about student loan ombudsmen for a general overview of the complaint process.

How can I switch my student loan servicer?

Quickly switch your servicer in two ways:

  • Refinance your student loans. Take out a new loan with a private lender to pay off your current student loans — both federal and private — with more competitive rates or terms.
  • Apply for a Direct Consolidation Loan. Take out a new federal loan to pay off your current federal student debt with similar rates, but potentially more repayment options.

You can also switch your servicer by applying for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). You must make 120 repayments while on an income-driven repayment plan and work at an eligible job before you can apply.

A breakdown of how student loan servicers work

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Bottom line

Filing a complaint against your student loan servicer is a way to resolve issues when customer service is getting you nowhere. Be sure to reach out to your servicer’s ombudsman or consumer advocate before turning to the CPFB, FSA Ombudsman Group or FTC.

Learn more about how student loans work, including a breakdown of your options.

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