Last month, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released its annual report on the most common complaints filed by student loan borrowers. The report analyzed 12,900 borrower complaints taken from September 1, 2016 through August 31, 2017.
This report also marks the first time the CFPB was able to analyze a full year of data since the agency began taking borrower complaints in February 2016.
One of the most surprising outcomes of this report was the fact that borrowers had more issues dealing with their loan servicers than they did with their actual loan payments. 71 percent of federal student loan borrowers complained about issues with their student loan servicer, while 28 percent complained they were having trouble making payments on their loans.
Meanwhile, 61 percent of private student loan borrowers had trouble dealing with their student loan servicer, while 35 percent struggled to repay their loans. Borrowers cited problems with accessing income-driven repayment plans and lower interest rates, and according to the ombudsman’s report, many borrowers struggled to consolidate their older loans.
Given its limelight this year, it wasn’t surprising to see that Navient received the most complaints overall; 61 percent of complaints from both federal and private student loan borrowers involved Navient.
Navient is one of the largest student loan servicers in the country. It currently services 28 percent of all federal student loans and all 29 percent of private student loans that are currently in repayment.
This report is not the first time Navient has been accused of engaging in actions that are harmful to borrowers. Last January, the CFPB filed a lawsuit against Navient claiming the company failed to give borrowers accurate payment information and incorrectly processed payments. And Attorneys General in Illinois, Washington, and Pennsylvania all have lawsuits pending against Navient.
Pennsylvania State Attorney General Josh Shapiro filed the lawsuit against Navient just last month, claiming the company engaged in practices that harmed numerous student loan borrowers. In the lawsuit, Shapiro claimed that Navient encouraged borrowers to take out risky subprime loans and engaged in other practices deemed unlawful by the Consumer Protection Law.
These lawsuits are currently pending and Navient has denied all allegations.
Shapiro also stated that he filed the lawsuit due in part due to “the accelerated rollback of protections by the U.S. Department of Education for students and consumers.” This has become an increasing area of concern for many state legislators.
In the past several years, many states have taken steps to provide increased student loan protections to borrowers in response to the perceived lack of action on the part of the federal government. Several different states have already put in place a student loan bill of rights, and Illinois is currently working to implement its own bill of rights.
Many of these actions are meant to address the complaints gathered by the CFPB. The aim is to help student loan borrowers manage their debt as well as increasing accountability on the servicing end of the student loan industry.