Finding Legal Assistance
There are organizations in every state and most communities which provide free legal help to people whose incomes fall below certain amounts.
Many of these programs are funded by the Legal Services Corporation (LSC). Borrowers can find out more by looking up LSC’s web site or by calling (202) 295-1500. To find out about legal services programs that are not funded by LSC, borrowers should check their local phone book or ask a local social services or consumer protection agency. LawHelp.org helps low and moderate income people find free legal aid referrals. Court clerks often have information about legal services programs as well.
All states have consumer protection agencies, listed here.
For consumer law problems, borrowers should also look up the National Association of Consumer Advocates (NACA) list of members. NACA’s list is divided by region and by area of practice. The members also rate their level of experience in different consumer areas. Contact NACA by calling (202) 452-1989 or check out the NACA website. Another helpful resource is The National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, which provides referral lists for local bankruptcy lawyers. Find out more by calling 202-331-8005.
Resources from the National Consumer Law Center
NCLC’s publication, Student Loan Law, is especially useful for attorneys and advocates representing student loan borrowers. NCLC also publishes a book for consumers and their advocates, Guide to Surviving Debt that includes general information about handling all types of debts, including student loan debt.
Assistance Within the Department of Education
Student Loan Ombudsman
The ombudsman office was created to help borrowers with difficult problems. Borrowers can submit problems online. The toll-free phone number is 877-557-2575 and the fax number is 202-275-0549; the mail address is U.S. Department of Education, FSA Ombudsman, 830 First Street, N.E., Mail Stop 5144, Washington, D.C. 20202-5144.
Department of Education Publications
The Department of Education publishes some very useful guides, including “Your Federal Student Loans: Learn the Basics and Manage Your Debt ” and “Funding Education Beyond High School.” The Guides are updated each year and are available in English and Spanish online or by calling the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID.
Assistance from Guaranty Agencies and Lenders
Many guaranty agencies and lenders have their own ombudsman or customer service offices. Some of these agencies do not publicize these services very well and you will have to ask to find out whether they exist.
Below is a partial list of guaranty agency and lender resources. These are agencies that agreed to list their information on this site. If your loan holder is not on this list, you should still check to see if they have an ombudsman or customer advocate unit. If you do not know which agency is holding your loan, you should check with the Department of Education ombudsman for more information. You should also be able to get this information from the National Student Loan Data System.
The agencies prefer that you first try to resolve your problem with the representative from their company or from a collection agency that has already contacted you. The ombudsman will get involved if these initial efforts are unsuccessful. You should only call one of these programs if they hold your loan.
American Student Assistance
Ombudsman: Grace Bartini
Phone: 1-800-999-9080 ext. 4512
College Assist/Nelnet Guarantor Solutions
Ombudsman: Germaine Terry
Regular Mail: 3015 South Parker Road, Suite 400
Aurora, CO 80014
Phone: (303) 696-3598 (Direct line to ombudsman)
The California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) transferred its student loan portfolio, which was serviced by EdFund, to ECMC. (see ECMC information below).
Educational Credit Management Corporation (ECMC)
Regular Mail: ECMC
Attn: Diane Zitur
PO BOX 75906
St. Paul, MN 55175
Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation
- Regular Mail: Ombudsman
- P.O. Box 7859
- Madison, WI 53707-7859
- Phone: (866) 486-7140 (toll free)
- (608) 246-1485 (toll call)
- Fax: (800) 749-8537 (toll free)
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA)
E. H. Stewart, Jr.
4 Quakerbridge Plaza
P. O. Box 549
Trenton, NJ 08625-0549
(609) 588 – 3351
(609) 588 – 2427 FAX
Illinois Student Assistance Commission
1755 Lake Cook Road
Deerfield, IL 60015
Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority
Ombudsman: Elaine Brumback
Regular Mail: KHEAA Ombudsman
PO Box 798
Frankfort, KY 40602
Phone: 800-928-8926, ext. 67278
Michigan Guaranty Agency
Ombudsman: Pat Fromm
Mail Address: Michgan Guaranty Agency
Attn: Pat Fromm/Ombudsman
PO Box 30047
Lansing, MI 48909
Phone: 800-MGA-LOAN (642-5626) Ext. 36076
Missouri Department of Higher Education
Ombudsman: Marla Robinson
P.O. Box 1469
Jefferson City, MO 65102-1469
National Education Servicing
Ombudsman Contact: Tracy Kaufmann
Mailing Address: 200 W. Monroe, Suite 700
Chicago, IL 60606
Phone: 800-345-4325, ext. 5189
National Student Loan Program
NY State Higher Education Services Corporation
Oklahoma College Assistance Program (OCAP)
Ombudsman Contact: Kim Hetzler
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 3000
Oklahoma City, OK 73101-3000
Phone: 800-247-0420 (toll free)
Customer Advocate Unit
More information about Sallie Mae Customer Advocate Unit, including how to contact the Unit.
Student Loans of North Dakota
Compliance Officer: Char Feist
Phone: 1-800-472-2166, extension 5753
(701) 328-5753 (toll call)
Texas Guaranteed Student Loan Corporation
Ombudsman: Luanne Dodge
Phone: 1 800 252-9743 extension 4502
More information about TGSLC ombudsman.
Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority
Ombudsman: Michelle Hansen
Mail Address: Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority
The Board of Regents Bldg., The Gateway
60 S. 400 West
Salt Lake City, UT 84101
Phone: (801) 321-7225
Comparing Student Loan Products
- Student Loan Tips from The Project on Student Debt
- Private Loan Guide from Student Lending Analytics
- Ask the Aid Adviser