The Next Gen federal student loan servicing system will bring changes to how federal student loan borrowers make payments.
The Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) is working on making some big changes to the current federal student loan servicing system. This new system is called the Next Generation Financial Services Environment (Next Gen).
The Department of Education started making plans for an updated student loan servicing system in 2014. Next Gen aims to simplify student loan repayment for borrowers, with a plan to be fully implemented in 2019.
The plan is to have a single website that borrowers can log into and make payments, consolidate their loans, or get help from customer service agents. There are many different advantages to this plan.
Currently, federal student loan borrowers can make payments to one of nine different student loan servicers. Each one of these servicers has their own website and uses different technology platforms.
Using a single system will make this process much more straightforward for borrowers. Having a centralized technology infrastructure would make it easier for the FSA to house borrower information and track analytics. And it should be easier for the FSA to monitor their student loan servicers.
However, it is unclear how the FSA plans to monitor student loan servicers going forward. There is no plan for accountability, and the FSA has not established what their standards are for renewing contracts with student loan servicers, according to the Center for American Progress. And although the single, unified website could make loan repayments easier, borrowers would have no way of knowing what company is servicing their loan.
One thing that could complicate this process is that NextGen will require two separate servicing systems to process loans. One system will be for old loans and one will be for new loans.
Solution 2.0 will be for older loans and will offer repayment plans that aren’t available to new borrowers. Solution 3.0 is for newer loans and will be more efficient and able to respond quickly to regulatory changes. However, it’s unclear what would happen if a borrower had both old and new loans.
Before NextGen can launch, billions of records from current borrowers will have to be uploaded to the new system, according to the CAP. And this data has to be uploaded accurately or millions of borrowers could experience payment errors. Trying to fix these errors manually would be a time-consuming process.
Congress is monitoring NextGen’s progress and recently issued several requirements in the budget. This includes things like using multiple contractors to increase competition and giving certain borrowers the option to choose their loan servicer.
However, there is a reason to hope that NextGen will be a better solution for current and future borrowers. If this process goes smoothly, it could save borrowers a lot of time and money. A simpler repayment system might help more borrowers pay down their loans quickly and avoid default.