In May 2012, the National Consumer Law Center’s Student Loan Borrower Assistance Project released Borrowers on Hold: Student Loan Collection Agency Complaint Systems Need Massive Improvement, focusing on major gaps in the federal student loan collection agency complaint system. The report found that the U.S. Department of Education (the Department), as well as its contractors, failed to provide a transparent complaint process for borrowers struggling to get out of default.
In Borrowers on Hold: 2013 Update, we’re pleased to report that the Department has improved the online complaint process for borrowers in default by creating a more responsive, intuitive and transparent system. However, more needs to be done.
Improvements that are still needed include:
- The Department should publish information about the various stages of the complaint resolution process.
- The Department must track and publish complaint outcomes and average response time.
- Private collection agencies should prominently link to the federal default resolution website.
- Aggregated complaint data must be publicly available.
- Complaint data should be used to drive enforcement and oversight efforts.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) continues to serve as a model for the
Department of Education. The CFPB enumerates its six-step process for resolving
complaints on its website. Borrowers who submit complaints may track the status of the complaint by logging into the CFPB’s site.