La Oficina de Protección Financiera del Consumidor (CFPB) informe anual de ombudsman focuses on the problems many borrowers face trying to repay private student loans. Nosotros aplaudir el informe CFPB, especially since it is so difficult for borrowers to get relief from burdensome private student loan debt. The agency also issued an asesor para ayudar a los prestatarios de pagar sus préstamos más rápidamente si están tratando de hacerlo.
The CFPB reported that almost half of all of the complaints from private student loan borrowers were from consumers seeking loan modifications or other relief. These results affirm the need for policymakers and regulators to come up with soluciones creativas para proporcionar alivio, especially for those borrowers stuck with predatory loans made by so many lenders prior to the credit crash. It is also essential to restablecer los derechos de quiebra para estos prestatarios.
El informe CFPB es una contribución importante a la creciente evidencia de disfunción y averías in the student loan servicing industry. Por ejemplo, el mayor prestamista estudiantil privado y agente de pago, Sallie Mae, announced recently that delinquency rates on its private student loans increased because of problems with the company’s servicing systems. We need to hear from Sallie Mae about what it is doing to fix the problems AND to make sure that borrowers are made whole. You should let the CFPB and your servicer know if you have experienced these types of problems.
La noticia no es mucho mejor en la parte de préstamos federales, but the Department of Education is trying to make improvements. Por ejemplo, el Departamento anunciado that it is working to make sure that all federal loan borrowers have just one servicer. Este “iniciativa de transferencia” will go on through March 2014. El Departamento es recordando a los prestatarios que los administradores de préstamos pueden ayudar con todo tipo de preguntas y problemas, not just about repayment. Servicers, dicen, son “…hay que asegurarse de que usted, como prestatario de préstamos estudiantiles federales, obtener el servicio al cliente y soporte de pago que tiene que devolver con éxito su préstamo estudiantil.” In response to this reminder, un prestatario se le preguntó si él puede hacer todo lo que un privado “estudiante de alivio de la deuda del préstamo” empresa puede hacer sin su $699 cuota? The Department has not yet responded, pero esperamos que la respuesta es SÍ—Serivcers préstamos gubernamentales deben ser capaces de ayudar a los prestatarios a obtener consolidaciones de préstamos u otros programas, definitely for free. Borrowers should get neutral counseling and should be able to make choices that work best for them.
Desafortunadamente, en nuestro trabajo con los clientes, we rarely encounter this level of service. I was meeting with a financially distressed client last week, por ejemplo, who was barely managing to stay current on an old guaranteed consolidation loan (Préstamo FFEL). She had been living in a domestic violence shelter for some time. She is temporarily living with a friend while her son lives with other family members. She is trying to get back on her feet and find work. It is difficult and she is only earning about $5,000/year. Yet when she called her federal loan servicer for help, they put her in a short-term forbearance. For the last serveral years, they have placed her in forbearances and deferments. She says that no one even mentioned pago basado en los ingresos (IBR). She called the servicer while I was in the room and sure enough, the representative mentioned another forbearance. The representative only mentioned IBR when I got on the phone and asked about it. What is this about? How hard is it to mention the range of options? IBR is not for everyone, but it seems like a pretty good idea for a borrower earning about $5,000/year with mountains of credit card debt and a student loan balance of almost $15,000. She hopes to improve her financial situation, pero por ahora, her main goal is to stay out of default and avoid collection agency harassment and the poderes de recolección draconianas of the federal government.
It’s nice that the government is reminding borrowers to take advantage of the free counseling offered by servicers, but who is making sure that the counseling is comprehensive and accurate? Entre otras cosas, we need to know more about how the government is paying the servicers. If they are paid mainly by customer volume, we will have an important clue as to why they so often prefer the quicker forbearance and deferment options over the more time-consuming IBR process. Hay public information about the contracts, pero necesitamos more information. Policymakers, regulators, taxpayers and borrowers all need to know if the servicers are complying with the law and serving borrowers.
What about the borrower who responded to the Departments’ reminder by asking about private “alivio de la deuda” empresas? Nuestro Junio 2013 reportar highlights the many problems with these companies. Desafortunadamente, consumers are often drawn to them when they don’t get what they need from the government servicers. This should not be the case. The debt relief companies charge (a menudo una gran cantidad de dinero) for services that are available for free. They are rarely up-front about what they are selling, claiming to offer “special deals” when in fact they are talking about government programs that are available for free. Para empeorar las cosas, the private companies often lack the expertise to give accurate information.
There is a lot of work to do to improve student loan servicing, but not all solutions require new laws and regulations. The first step is to make sure that the servicers have proper incentives to serve borrowers and that they know that there is rigorous oversight if they fail to do their jobs.