The kind of student loan debt our country faces today — around $1.2 trillion, owed by some 41 million Americans — doesn’t “just happen.” Instead, it takes multiple key players, all contributing to a sort of perfect storm where student loan borrowers, and taxpayers, suffer considerably.
Before we get into the ins and outs of unfair or even fraudulent student loan servicers, it’s important to understand the different key players in the student loan crises our country faces today.
Meet the key players.*
College Marketing Officers: They may say they’re here for their students and prospective students’ best interests. The truth? They’re paid to recruit. That’s their job. And they — college marketing officers — will do their job largely without considering prospective student’s financial circumstances. They also have powerful tools to work with: Professional marketing teams and websites, slogans and alumni. Of course if that all doesn’t work, they have this time-tested pitch: Success + The Best Time of Your Life!
College marketing officers and their teams have begun using financial pitches in the last decade, too, even when their colleges might not have the level of grants and scholarships really required to limit student loan debt. A promise is a promise, Unless, of course, it comes in an impossible to understand acceptance letter that seems to say (maybe?) that finances will all work out in the end.
The truth? Loan money is typically deposited directly with the colleges, no matter how much a student may be suffering— and that popular message of it’s normal and/or doable to get in so much debt? False.
State Law Makers: Elected to serve; entrusted to look after citizen’s best interests. But whose interests — and of which decade? State law makers have made it such a habit to habitually cut state budgets vis à vis cutting down on student financial aid, you have to wonder what our future will look like, throughout the country. After all: We thought students were our country’s future — and we thought that future rested on education. If state law makers continually contribute to a financial reality where a college degree is just a dream? Our future looks bleak.
And while we’re at it: Think state schools are a better bargain? Think again. State and local spending per college student has reached a 25-year national low. What is more, if trends continue into 2016, we’re looking at a doubling of the cost of public college within a mere 15 years.
Federal Government: The Education Department has contracts with 11 loan servicers — and yet there are no federal standards governing the activities of these loan servicers. That’s a harsh reality for borrowers who are not permitted to choose their own servicers, meaning they cannot “move their business elsewhere” should they experience problems.
Our student loan lawyers (link to webpage) believe that borrowers would be better protected if the Department of Education included the tenants of good loan servicing in their contracts, good and necessary tenants like: Maintain contact with your borrowers. Currently, student loan servicers are not paid for contacting and talking to borrowers to provide good loan servicing (or to help borrowers understand where they are in their repayment). Since they’re not compensated for this work, it so often goes undone, no matter how much borrowers may require it.
Naive Parents and Guardians: Let’s be honest. The cost of acquiring an education is so different than it was just ten years ago, parents are often completely unprepared for understanding the costs associated with student loan interest. These are sky-high interest rates we’re talking about, and yet far too many parents and guardians may have encouraged their children to undergo these loans because they were under the impression that it was “the good kind of loan.” What that means is millions of people who don’t even have the right to vote are taking on loans that they have no realistic ability to pay off given their prospective employment, or loans — and interest — that will take a literal lifetime of work to pay.
And then there were Student Loan Servicers
Of course we can’t forget the true culprit of the problem.
Student Loan Servicers are supposed to manage borrowers’ loan accounts, process their payments and help enroll borrowers in any other potential repayment plans like plans based on a fixed share of the borrowers’ income or family size or plans with lower interest for borrowers on active duty.
Unfortunately, despite their job description, student loan servicers may be taking advantage of all of the above key player’s “perfect storm,” the loopholes and the missing policies that help to create an environment where servicers think they can get away with doing a lot of wrong. In the end, what that means is borrowers are finding themselves being hit when they are already knocked down.
What to Do Now
If you have been harassed by a student loan servicer; have suffered when your servicer failed to update you; or learned that your servicer negligently misplaced or did not report your repayment progress, you may be able to file a student loan debt lawsuit. A student loan lawsuit could help you get the money you need to pay off your student loans — and it can also help you hold student loan servicers accountable when they fail their customers.
*Note: While unfair student loan lawsuits may focus on helping individual borrowers fight back against their wrongful loan servicers, in truth, there’s even more work that needs to be done on a large scale to make things right for students and taxpayers. Some of that work must be done on a community and campus-wide basis, which is why we’re sharing information about the contributors to the student debt crises today —not just the problematic student loan servicers that our student loan lawyers are investigating.