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How a student loan ombudsman can help resolve issues with your servicer
Settle a dispute through a third-party mediator.
What’s a student loan ombudsman?
A student loan ombudsman is an official acting as a neutral third party that investigates complaints against student loan providers and servicers. They are not an advocate for you, but can clarify misunderstandings or work with your loan company to resolve a mistake.
Types of student loan ombudsmen
There are three types of student loan ombudsmen you can contact. Each handles different types of complaints.
|Ombudsman||Types of financial aid||Resolves complaints against …|
|Federal Student Aid (FSA) Ombudsman Group||Federal student loans and grants|
|Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Private Student Loan Ombudsman||Private student loans|
|Your student loan servicer’s ombudsman||Federal and private loans|
Many student loan servicers — though not all — have their own ombudsman or office of consumer advocacy to handle complaints. Like the FSA and CFPB ombudsmen, these are also mediating third parties tasked with getting to the bottom of disputes. You can usually find contact details on your servicer’s website.
What issues can an ombudsman resolve?
A student loan ombudsman can resolve issues or clarify terms involving:
- Incorrect loan balances
- Incorrectly processed payments
- Incorrect marks on your credit report
- Customer service complaints
- Loan disbursal
- Cancellation, discharge or forgiveness
- Changes to your repayment plan
- Default status
- Tax refund offsets
- Wage garnishment
- Collection charges
The FSA Ombudsman Group can also review the process of converting a TEACH Grant into a loan and give you an overview of your loan repayment options.
What issues is an ombudsman unable to resolve?
An ombudsman can’t make any changes to a legally binding decision — even if you didn’t understand the terms of your contract when you signed it. But they can clarify how different aspects of your loan like repayments, interest and forbearance work.
They are also not your advocate. They won’t testify on your behalf if you end up in court, and they won’t take sides in the dispute.
When should I contact a student loan ombudsman?
A student loan ombudsman is meant to be used as a last resort. You should only contact an ombudsman after you’ve reached out to your lender, servicer or collection agency to resolve the dispute yourself.
Before reaching out to an ombudsman, have a clear idea of the problem and your desired outcome so you can clearly present your case.
How to submit a request to a student loan ombudsman
It depends on the type of ombudsman you’re interested in filing a complaint with — they each have different procedures for getting in touch.
What information do I need to provide?
Before you get started, you might want to have the following information on hand:
- Date of birth
- Social Security number
- Name of your school
- Name of the company you’re in a dispute with
- Type of loan you’re having an issue with
- Details on previous attempts to resolve the issue
- Names and titles of employees you spoke with
- Documents supporting your claim — promissory notes, loan statements, bills, bank statements or any written correspondence
FSA Ombudsman Group
The FSA Ombudsman Group requires you to complete a checklist with the information listed above before requesting assistance. You can download a PDF of the FSA Ombudsman information checklist on the FSA website.
After completing the checklist, you have three options to get in touch:
CFPB Private Student Loan Ombudsman
Private student loan holders can file a complaint with the CFPB Private Student Loan Ombudsman through the CFPB website.
You’ll need to provide details about the dispute, explain how you’ve already attempted to resolve the issue and upload any supporting documents.
Your student loan servicer’s ombudsman
Each servicer has its own procedure for submitting a complaint with the company’s ombudsman or consumer advocate office. Often you’ll need to reach out by phone, mail or email to learn what type of information you should provide and how to submit documents.
What happens after I submit a request?
After you submit a request, the student loan ombudsman typically reaches out to the servicer, agency or company you’re filing the complaint against to get a response and verify the information you’ve submitted.
If the company acted legally, the ombudsman might get back to you with a clarification of the terms of your loan or an explanation of why the company was within its rights to act the way it did. Otherwise, the ombudsman will work with both sides to brainstorm solutions to the issue so each party is satisfied.
Compare student loan refinancing offers
Refinancing your student loans could change up your servicer. Before refinancing, be sure to consider if the new loan makes sense for your budget and check which servicer your new loan will be serviced by.
A student loan ombudsman can be a great resource when you aren’t able to resolve an issue on your own. However, they shouldn’t be your first stop if you’re having trouble with your student loans. Contact your servicer first before starting a formal complaint process — you might be able to reach a solution yourself.
Learn more about how student loan servicers work by checking out our guide.
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