|The Department of Education has contracts with a number of loan servicers. If you are not sure who your loan servicer is, you can look up this information at www.nslds.ed.gov or by calling 1-800-4-FED-AID. There is a separate section of the Department’s web site on servicing and collections.|
If you believe your account balance is wrong, ask your loan holder for a statement that shows all payments made on your student loan account. If you believe payments that you made were not credited to your account, you will need to provide proof that these payments were made.
For federal loans, the Department generally assigns you a servicer and says that you cannot switch! (See the Department’s answer to the question about whether borrowers select loan servicers). However, if you are consolidating your loans, you can choose among four servicers: FedLoan Servicing (PHEAA), Great Lakes, Nelnet, or Navient (formerly Sallie Mae). —- Sallie Mae announced in February 2014 that it was splitting into two companies, Navient and Sallie Mae. The new company, Navient, services federal student loans and a majority of existing Sallie Mae private loans. (See January 2017 CFPB lawsuit against Navient)
You may want to contact the CFPB if you are having trouble with servicers of either federal or private student loans. You can submit a complaint to the CFPB AND to the Department using the on-line Federal Student Aid (FSA) Feedback System.
You should also contact your loan servicer directly. Department of Education loan servicers are supposed to do more than just collect payments. They should also help with questions about loan consolidation, cancellations, and other programs. You can learn about and apply for these programs for free. Beware of “debt relief” companies that charge (often a lot of money) for these same services that you can do for free. You should also not give these companies access to your student aid information. They shouldn’t be asking for it, but most do!
ALERT: In April 2016, the Department of Education announced a new competition for federal student loan servicing. The Department is proposing a number of changes, including the creation of a uniform set of customer service standards, single loan management platform and Department-branded portal. The Department announced the next step in the process in October 2016. However, in April 2017, the Department withdrew a number of Obama Administration memos setting out guidelines for the new servicing procurement process. In August 2017, the Department announced that it was canceling the current solicitation. According to the announcement, the Department will have a new “processing and servicing environment” in place prior to the expiration of the current contracts in 2019. The Department provided some information about what the new system might look like, but there are still many unresolved questions. Stay tuned!
For private student loans, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has extensive information to help you deal with private student loan servicers.
The Department of Education Ombudsman gives these tips for staying in touch with loan servicers:
Tips for Dealing with Your Loan Servicer*
It is usually best to communicate with your loan servicer in writing, because you’ll have a physical record of what has been said and done.