We have assisted many borrowers over the years and we continually encounter collection, guaranty agency and government staff that do not follow the rules governing the federal student loan programs. To make matters worse, many collection employees treat borrowers horribly even when those borrowers are trying to resolve their accounts.
When we call on their behalf, we are treated just as badly…at first. The difference is that we have the tools and knowledge to fight back on behalf of our clients.
Why does this occur? Is it because the workers are bored? Underpaid? Do they feel that so many borrowers are out to game the system that it doesn’t really matter if a few fall between the cracks?
After all of these years of representing borrowers, I can only say that I don’t know the reasons why borrowers are treated so poorly. It appears to be a combination of bad training, lack of oversight, incompetence, bad attitudes, and conflicts of interest. These problems are compounded by the fact that borrowers are getting information about rights from the parties that are trying to collect from them. Private collection agencies are delegated complex responsibilities such as determining the monthly payments for reasonable and affordable payment plans. These collection agencies also help determine if borrowers have defenses to collection procedures, even though the collection agencies’ financial incentive is not to offer reasonable and affordable plans or to acknowledge defenses.
Regardless of the reasons, the important point is that borrowers are not given accurate, objective information about their rights. It is unfair and counter-productive to treat borrowers this way if we want to help them get back on their feet. All student loan borrowers deserve a fair process. And fairness, as Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart once said, is what justice really is.