If you’re having issues with your student loan servicer and can’t resolve them, you can always contact a student loan ombudsman. An ombudsman reviews both sides of the problem to help identify a solution.
Find out what issues a federal student aid ombudsman can resolve and how to contact one.
What is a student loan ombudsman?
The Federal Student Aid (FSA) Ombudsman Group is an unbiased and confidential resource for when you have issues with your federal student loans. If your account is wrongfully in default or the balance is incorrect, an ombudsman can intervene.
A student loan ombudsman is a neutral contact, meaning they are not your advocate in a dispute. But they also are not on the loan servicer’s side, either. The ombudsman enters the conflict from a neutral standpoint. They then evaluate the data and enable both parties to come to a resolution.
An ombudsman can’t overturn decisions, but they can create an argument to present to the lender or collection agency. The ombudsman can help the decision makers make an informed ruling, which can help give you relief.
What kind of issues can an ombudsman resolve?
A student loan ombudsman can assist with many issues, including:
- loan balance discrepancies
- explaining interest or default charges
- identifying repayment options
An ombudsman cannot make decisions about loan forgiveness or repayment plans, though. And if you have private student loans, you need to work with an ombudsman specializing in private loans. The federal student loan ombudsman cannot help you. To find a private loan ombudsman, you can contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Before submitting a request
Reaching out to the FSA Student Loan Ombudsman Group should be a last resort. It’s a step you should only take when you have exhausted all other options. You should try to work directly with your loan servicer, credit bureau, or collection agency on your own first.
The Federal Student Aid Office created a resolution checklist you can use to help you manage problems on your own. Use the checklist and follow their recommended steps to try and resolve any issues. You should check off all the appropriate steps for your problem to ensure you did all you could before contacting the ombudsman.
Here are two common issues borrowers face and the steps you should take before reaching out to an ombudsman for common problems:
Incorrect loan balance
If your account balance has the wrong total, contact your loan servicer directly. You can gather bank statements or payment confirmation emails, and submit your proof to them.
When you contact the loan servicer, record the date, time, and name of any person you speak with and follow up via email or in writing. Save the originals of any payments, receipts, or emails about your issue. If you make payments electronically, download and save copies of the confirmation notifications.
If the loan servicer asks you to submit documentation, send in copies via certified mail, so you have a record of when they received it.
Inaccurate credit report
If you think your loan servicer sent incorrect information to the credit bureaus and it’s affecting your credit score, you can dispute the report.
If you contact Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion, and show documentation of your accurate loan balance and payments, they will correct your credit report. You can monitor your credit report and check for errors for free at AnnualCreditReport.com.
How to contact an ombudsman
If you’ve tried to resolve the issue on your own but failed, you can contact the student loan ombudsman online or through mail.
If you use the online form, you’ll need your:
- Social Security Number
- Phone number
- Email address
- Loan information
- Details about the problem
They need all of this information so they can locate your federal student loan account.
If you prefer, you can send a written request. If you choose this option, make sure you include all the information above in your letter. You can send the request and the documentation to:
The U.S Department of Education
FSA Ombudsman Group
P.O. Box 1843
Monticello, KY 42633
When reaching out to the ombudsman, make sure you have the documentation about your situation ready. And be able to pinpoint exactly what the problem is and what resolution you want. The FSA Ombudsman Group has an information checklist you can use ahead of time to outline the essentials.
After you’ve contacted the federal student aid ombudsman, they’ll research your situation and review the documentation you sent. They’ll work with you, your loan servicer, school, and even the collection agency managing your debt, if necessary.
From there, they will help you identify potential solutions and steps forward. For example, they may advise your loan servicer that the loan amount on your account is incorrect. Or they may refer you to another agency for issues outside their scope.
The ombudsman will ensure there is a resolution and will create a plan to avoid future issues from coming up.
When you’re having issues with your student loans, it’s easy to feel helpless when you’re battling big loan servicers. But when you have tried everything you can think of and still haven’t been able to fix the issue, a student loan ombudsman can be an essential resource to find a resolution.
For more information about how to handle student loan disputes, learn more about defense repayment rules and how they can help you.
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