Is your student loan servicer charging you fees you don’t agree with, failing to allocate your payments the right way, or simply providing poor customer service? You’re not alone. Many borrowers have similar issues with their student loan servicers and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) can help.
The CFPB is a government agency that protects consumers of financial products and services — everything from student loans and mortgages to credit reporting and debt collection. They supervise companies, enforce laws, and write new rules and regulations. They also accept consumer complaints.
Here’s how to submit a complaint to the Consumer Financial Protection bureau if you’re having problems with your loan servicer.
How to submit a complaint to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
1. Try to resolve the issue with your loan servicer first: Before submitting a complaint, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau expects you to try and resolve the issue directly with your loan servicer. Only when it is clear to you that no resolution can be found should you bring in the CFPB to help resolve the matter.
2. Gather supporting documents: The CFPB encourages you to include third-party supporting documents with your complaint, such as statements, contracts, receipts, and letters.
3. Go to ConsumerFinance.gov/complaint: This is the official website of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau where you’ll file your complaint.
4. Select “student loan” from the list of options: You’ll find this among 10 other options under “Choose a product or service to get started.” As you’ll see, student loans are one of many financial products and services for which the CFPB accepts complaints.
5. Select “federal student loan” or “private student loan”: Indicate what type of student loan your servicer is responsible for handling.
6. Describe what happened: The CFPB wants to hear your side of the story. What they do not want you to include in this section is any personally-identifying information (e.g., your name, account number, contact information, or Social Security number). They’ll ask for all of that later on in the submission process.
7. Indicate whether you want your story included in the CFPB Consumer Complaint Database: Once you’ve described what happened, you’ll have the option of choosing whether you want your story included in the Consumer Complaint Database – a public database that anyone can view.
If you’re not sure whether to make it public, keep in mind your story could be helpful to another borrower who is having a similar issue.
Of course, even if you decline to have your description of the situation made public, the details of your complaint may still be included in the database, minus any personally-identifying information. This includes basic information, such as:
- Date you submitted the complaint
- Product type (student loan)
- Sub-product (federal student loan)
- Issue (dealing with my lender or servicer)
- Description (if you elected to include it)
- Name and location of your servicer
- Their response to your complaint
- Whether you disputed the response or not
8. Follow the rest of the submission process as instructed:
- Describe your desired solution
- Provide requested personal information
- Provide requested product information
- Review your submission
- Submit the complaint
9. Wait up to 15 days for a response: Upon receipt of your complaint, the CFPB will forward it and any supporting documents, to your loan servicer for review. Your servicer then has up to 15 days to respond.
During this 15-day waiting period, you can expect to receive email updates from the CFPB. However, you are also free to login to the website as often as you like to check on the status of your complaint.
Another possibility is that, upon reviewing your complaint, the CFPB determines another government agency is better-suited to assist you. In that case, they will let you know they have forwarded your information to another agency for review.
10. Review the response from your loan servicer: Best case scenario, you’re thrilled with the response, which outlines the steps your loan servicer plans to take to resolve the issue to your satisfaction. Worst case scenario, you’re disappointed in the response, in which case you can submit a dispute, a process the CFPB will walk you through.
Examples of complaints from the database
When you select your issue – “Dealing with my lender or servicer” – you’ll have the option of selecting from one of the following sub-issues:
- Trouble with how payments are handled
- Don’t agree with fees charged
- Received bad information about my loan
- Need information about my balance/terms
- Keep getting calls about my loan
- Having problems with customer servicer
If you don’t see your sub-issue listed, it may be that the problem you are having is not actually specific to your loan servicer, but a different issue entirely, like “Getting a loan” or “Can’t repay my loan.”
Note that if your issue is financial aid eligibility or receiving your money for your federal student loan, the CFPB says to direct your complaint to the U.S. Department of Education.
How the CFPB uses your complaint information
Besides forwarding your complaint to your loan servicer and including some of your complaint information in the Consumer Complaint Database, the CFPB also:
- Shares complaints with state, federal, and law enforcement officials
- Sends a complaint report to Congress twice a year
- Analyzes complaint data to better enforce rules and write new ones
Other ways the CFPB helps student loan borrowers
Besides accepting complaints, the CFPB:
- Educates borrowers on student loan options
- Provides the Financial Aid Shopping Sheet and a customizable online tool to help borrowers compare financial aid offers
- Regulates the student loan industry, including oversight of predatory lending practices, payment processing issues, service member rights, and affordability of private student loans
The CFPB also has a direct line for consumers to call with questions. If you have any problems during the complaint process, do not hesitate to call the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau at 855-411-2372.
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