Stu­dent loan com­pany blasted for its prac­tices

46 states, in­clud­ing Ok­la­homa, al­lege in com­plaint that Navient Corp. pushes stu­dents into high­cost, de­cep­tive re­pay­ment plans

Tulsa World - - Datelines - By K.S. McNutt The Ok­la­homan km­c­[email protected]­la­homan.com

An anal­y­sis of stu­dent loan-re­lated com­plaints sub­mit­ted to the Con­sumer Fi­nan­cial Pro­tec­tion Bureau last year shows one loan ser­vic­ing com­pany was the most com­plained about in 46 states, in­clud­ing Ok­la­homa.

Navient Corp. trig­gered the most com­plaints for its han­dling of fed­eral stu­dent loans, pri­vate stu­dent loans and debt col­lec­tion, ac­cord­ing to an anal­y­sis by LendEDU of nearly 10,000 com­plaints sub­mit­ted to the fed­eral con­sumer pro­tec­tion agency be­tween Jan. 1 and Dec. 19, 2018.

Navient is a U.S. cor­po­ra­tion based in Wilm­ing­ton, Delaware, that ser­vices $300 bil­lion in stu­dent loans.

Navient may have driven tens of thou­sands of bor­row­ers strug­gling with debt into higher-cost re­pay­ment plans, The As­so­ci­ated Press re­ported in Novem­ber.

The AP re­port was based on a U.S. Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion au­dit of prac­tices at Navient, the na­tion's third­largest stu­dent loan ser­vic­ing com­pany. Fed­eral and state law­suits have been filed ac­cus­ing Navient of boost­ing its prof­its by steer­ing some bor­row­ers into the high-cost plans with­out dis­cussing less costly op­tions, ac­cord­ing to the re­port.

AP re­ported five states are su­ing Navient — Illi­nois, Penn­syl­va­nia, Wash­ing­ton, Cal­i­for­nia and Mis­sis­sippi — based on state con­sumer pro­tec­tion laws. In its own law­suit, the Con­sumer Fi­nan­cial Pro­tec­tion Bureau claims the com­pany's prac­tices are un­fair, de­cep­tive and abu­sive, and break fed­eral con­sumer pro­tec­tion laws.

Navient dis­puted the Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion's au­dit con­clu­sions and has de­nied the al­le­ga­tions in the law­suits.

One Ok­la­homa stu­dent re­ported, “I have had a good ex­pe­ri­ence with them. They told me about how I could lower my monthly pay­ments and de­fer­ment op­tions when I first started pay­ing.”

Other Ok­la­homans de­scribed their ex­pe­ri­ence as, “Hor­ri­ble. They're so bad. To talk to some­one it's go­ing to take you at least an hour, some­times two,” and re­ported Navient “won't work with you at all.”

Com­plaint break­down

The Con­sumer Fi­nan­cial Pro­tec­tion Bureau data­base breaks stu­dent loan­re­lated com­plaints into two cat­e­gories — com­plaints di­rectly re­lated to ei­ther pri­vate or fed­eral stu­dent loans and com­plaints re­lated to debt col­lec­tion.

In the stu­dent loan-spe­cific cat­e­gory, the Con­sumer Fi­nan­cial Pro­tec­tion Bureau re­ceived 8,340 com­plaints be­tween Jan. 1 and Dec. 19, 2018. Of those, 64 per­cent per­tained to fed­eral stu­dent loans, while 36 per­cent dealt with pri­vate stu­dent loans.

“Not sur­pris­ingly, Navient once again led the way this year when it came to the most com­plained about fed­eral stu­dent loan com­pa­nies,” said Mike Brown, author of the LendEDU re­port.

The re­port shows 42 per­cent of the 5,362 fed­eral stu­dent loan com­plaints were lodged against Navient. AES/ PHEAA was next with 26 per­cent of all fed­eral stu­dent loan com­plaints.

LendEDU ranked the four fed­eral loan ser­vice com­pa­nies that re­ceived the most com­plaints per mil­lion loan re­cip­i­ents and Navient topped the list with 336 com­plaints, more than twice as many as the next com­pany.

Navient also was the com­pany with the most pri­vate stu­dent loan com­plaints by vol­ume, with 53 per­cent, and the one with the most debt col­lec­tion com­plaints. In the lat­ter cat­e­gory, bor­rower com­plaints against all com­pa­nies were mostly about deal­ing with the lender or ser­vicer, fol­lowed by strug­gles to re­pay loans.

Ok­la­homa num­bers

LendEDU's break­down of pri­vate and fed­eral stu­dent loan com­plaints by state shows Ok­la­homa had 16 com­plaints per mil­lion res­i­dents, with 45 per­cent of the com­plaints against Navient.

Of the 62 com­plaints filed by Ok­la­homa bor­row­ers, 68 per­cent re­lated to fed­eral loans and 32 per­cent to pri­vate loans.

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