According to The Student Loan Report, there are over 44 million student loan borrowers in the United States that collectively owe more than $1.41 trillion in student loan debt.

On average, 70 percent of college graduates hold student loan debt. Additionally, the average debt per borrower is roughly $27,857.

Long story short, there are a ton of student loan borrowers in the U.S. that are at the very center of a trillion dollar industry.

With so many students and graduates owing a considerable amount of money, there is a great demand for customer service and support.

This responsibility falls to companies known as student loan servicers - not the federal government like many falsely believe. Once the federal government or a private lender originates a student loan, a third party, the student loan servicer, is hired to collect payments and handle any problems regarding the loan.

In total, there are nine student loan servicers that handle both private and federal student loans. The servicers send bills, accept payments, help the borrower change repayment plans and enter deferment or forbearance, and help with applications for student loan forgiveness.

You are guaranteed to find more than a few stories every year that highlight the dishonest practices or the shortcomings of student loan servicers. Servicers have been known for harassing borrowers, trying to maximize profit at the expense of the borrower, and violating various regulations, among other issues.

Since the student loan industry is so massive, and since there are so many student loan servicers out there that have been criticized for malpractice, The Student Loan Report thought it would be interesting to see which student loan servicers have been the best and worst so far in 2017, similar to what we did last year

With the help of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) database, The Student Loan Report was able to find out how many complaints were filed against each of the nine student loan servicers that handle federal and private loans. Only complaints that have occurred in 2017 (1/1/2017 - 7/6/17) were analyzed.

In total, 11,706 student loan servicer complaints were evaluated. The number of complaints a student loan servicer received was divided by the number of borrowers that each servicer manages, and that number was multiplied by 100,000 to find the number of complaints per 100,000 borrowers for each student loan servicer. Additionally, we found the total number of complaints made for both federal and private student loans, the most common complaints for both federal and student loans, and the most common complaints for each student loan servicer.

Ranking the Student Loan Servicers From Best to Worst

1. Great Lakes

2. Not-for-Profit Servicers

3. Nelnet

4. PHEAA (FedLoan & AES)

5. Navient​

Full Results

Complaints Against Federal Student Loan Servicers Per 100,000 Borrowers

The table you will find immediately shows the number of complaints made by borrowers to the CFPB about student loan servicers regarding only federal student loans. The last column is indicative of complaints per 100,000 federal student loan borrowers. The table includes the four largest student loan servicers, as well as the combined stats for the five not-for-profit servicers (MOHELA, OSLA Servicing, GraniteState, CornerStone, and EdFinancial/HESC).



Total Student Loan Servicer Complaints for Federal & Private Student Loans

The following table displays the total number of complaints filed against each servicer for both federal and private student loans. In this table, each of the four largest student loan servicers are analyzed, in addition to each of the five individual not-for-profit servicers.



Note: No row appears for CornerStone because they had not yet received a student loan related complaint in 2017 at the time of this study.

Interactive Map Featuring Federal, Private, & Total Complaints for Each Student Loan Servicer

Most Common Complaints Made Against Student Loan Servicers for Federal Student Loans

Featured below is a table highlighting the five most common complaints made against student loan servicers for federal student loans only and how many times each complaint has been filed in 2017.



Most Common Complaints Made Against Student Loan Servicers for Private Student Loans

The table below features the five most common complaints made against student loan servicers for private student loans only and how many times each complaint has been filed in 2017.



Most Common Complaints Made Against Navient for Federal & Private Student Loans

Below you will find the three most common complaints made against Navient and how many of those complaints are related to either federal or private student loans.



Most Common Complaints Made Against PHEAA (FedLoan & AES) for Federal & Private Student Loans

In the table below you will find the three most common complaints made against PHEAA (FedLoan & AES) and how many of those complaints are related to either federal or private student loans.



Most Common Complaints Made Against Nelnet for Federal & Private Student Loans

The following table displays the three most common complaints made against Nelnet and how many of those complaints are related to either federal or private student loans.



Most Common Complaints Made Against Great Lakes for Federal & Private Student Loans

The table below highlights the three most common complaints made against Great Lakes and how many of those complaints are related to either federal or private student loans.



Most Common Complaints Made Against MOHELA for Federal & Private Student Loans

Featured below is a table that displays the three most common complaints made against MOHELA and how many of those complaints are related to either federal or private student loans.



Most Common Complaints Made Against EdFinancial/HESC for Federal & Private Student Loans

In the table found immediately below you can find the three most common complaints made against EdFinancial/HESC and how many of those complaints are related to either federal or private student loans.



Most Common Complaints Made Against Granite State for Federal & Private Student Loans

The following table indicates the three most common complaints made against Granite State and how many of those complaints are related to either federal or private student loans.



Most Common Complaints Made Against OSLA Servicing for Federal & Private Student Loans

In the table below you will find the three most common complaints made against OSLA Servicing and how many of those complaints are related to either federal or private student loans.



Note: No table appears for CornerStone because they had not yet received a student loan related complaint in 2017 at the time of this study.

Analysis

Navient's Shortcomings

It did not come as much of a surprise to see Navient atop the list as the worst student loan servicer in 2017, so far. Navient's complaints per 100,000 borrowers blew the competition out of the water. For 2017, Navient has dealt with 75.38 complaints per 100,000 borrowers; the next closest was PHEAA at 9.95 complaints per 100,000 borrowers.

In an ongoing story that is being covered by The Student Loan Report, Navient was sued by the CFPB for cheating borrowers out of billions of dollars by creating obstacles to paying back loans, resulting in higher interest rates and loan balances. Not only did Navient fail to correctly apply and allocate payments made by borrowers, which stopped borrowers from strategically choosing where their money went, but they also steered struggling borrowers into forbearance. In forbearance, borrowers can stop making payments temporarily, but interest still accrues, which made Navient more money.

Not-for-Profit Servicers Continue to Perform Well

Overall, not-for-profit student loan servicers have performed well at the halfway point of 2017. Not-for-profit servicers ranked second on our list of the best servicers, with a rate of 2.39 complaints per 100,000 borrowers. The Student Loan Report counted five servicers as the not-for-profit servicers that deal with both federal and private student loans; these servicers were MOHELA, EdFinancial/HESC, Granite State, OSLA Servicing, and CornerStone. Since these servicers are not driven by profits, it would seem likely that they would be less prone to conduct questionable business practices that other servicers have been accused of. Out of the five not-for-profit student loan servicers we included, MOHELA had the most complaints by far. MOHELA was responsible for 72 complaints, and the next closest was EdFinancial/HESC with 33.

Average Number of Complaints Per Borrower

When it came exclusively to federal student loans, an average of 1 out of every 5,183 borrowers filed a complaint with the CFPB regarding his or her student loan servicer. This number is operating under the assumption that one person did not submit multiple complaints. This number could appear low on the surface, but upon further thought, one must remember that this only includes complaints made to the CFPB. Borrowers could have submitted complaints elsewhere, or not filed a complaint at all. We could only use federal student loans because we are unable to find out the number of borrowers each servicer deals with for private student loans.

Federal vs. Private Student Loans

Another interesting statistic is that out of the data analyzed for the nine student loan servicers, 34.25 percent of all complaints made to the CFPB were in regards to private student loans. This number becomes eye-catching when you consider that only roughly 10 percent of the student loan industry is made up of private student loans. Usually with higher interest rates and less benefits, private student loans are seen as more risky for borrowers. Federal student loans come with benefits like deferment and forbearance protections, forgiveness, and income-driven repayment plans, but private student loans typically do not. Perhaps more complaints were filed regarding private student loans because borrowers were frustrated with the lack of flexibility and repayment options available to them.

CornerStone Shines

Finally, The Student Loan Report would like to quickly recognize CornerStone Education Loan Services for going through half of 2017 without yet receiving a complaint regarding their student loan service. It is very rare to not even see one complaint for a student loan servicer. Whether it is their customer service or their care for the consumer, CornerStone is doing something right and more student loan servicers should follow suit. It will be interesting to monitor CornerStone's performance through the remainder of 2017 and to see if they can remain with zero complaints.

Methodology

The Student Loan Report evaluated complaints made to the CFPB from the dates of January 1, 2017 and July 6, 2017. In total, there were 11,706 complaints filed with the CFPB so far in 2017. The Student Loan Report only evaluated the 10,030 complaints that were made against the nine student loan servicers that handle both federal and private student loans.

The number of borrowers that each servicer manages was pulled from the Department of Education's Federal Student Aid site. All borrowers were included in the study, including those still in school, in their grace periods, in repayment, in deferment, or in forbearance.

In order to find out the number of complaints each servicer received per 100,000 borrowers, we divided the total number of complaints regarding federal student loans by the total number of federal student loan borrowers that each servicer does business with. That resulting number was multiplied by 100,000 to make the numbers easier to read and to find out the number of complaints per 100,000 borrowers.

The CFPB does not confirm the accuracy of each complaint they receive. Complaints against the servicers were found in the student loan category.