When you hit a hiccup with your student loans, you should be able to contact your servicer to get prompt assistance and straightforward answers. But too often, the opposite is true. Just ask the borrowers who’ve submitted over 50,700 student loan complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in the past six years.
When you’re dealing with an unresponsive student loan servicer or creditor, it can help to get things in writing. Use these sample letters to resolve six common student loan issues, from misapplied payments to debt in collections.
1. Instruct your servicer how to apply student loan payments
If you’re paying more than your monthly minimum on student debt, make sure your servicer knows how to apply extra payments. Without clarification, a servicer might apply an extra payment to the following month’s statement or divide it across multiple loans when you intended to target just one.
To avoid or clear up such issues, you can send instructions to your servicer about how it should apply extra payments. Simply download, complete, and mail the CFPB’s sample letter found on this page.
2. Ask how you can lower your payments
If you’re struggling to keep up, you might wonder if there’s a way to reduce your monthly student loan payments. Federal student loan borrowers can enroll in income-driven repayment plans or request to defer payments.
But if you have private student loans, it can be harder to find out what your options to lower your monthly payments are. Visit this CFPB page and use the sample letter linked there to request clear answers from your private lender.
3. Change your automatic withdrawal settings
Setting up automatic withdrawals for your student loan payments can keep you from missing a payment and even earn you an interest rate discount. When you set up these automatic payments, you must give your servicer permission to withdraw funds directly from your bank account every month.
But what if you’ve encountered problems with automatic payments? This CFPB page lists sample letters that can help you take the following actions:
- Cancel automatic payment withdrawals. You can send a letter to your student loan servicer revoking your authorization to automatically debit your bank account. For good measure, send a letter to your bank to notify it of the change as well.
- Request a one-time block of an automatic payment. If you want to skip just one automatic payment, you can send a stop-payment order to your bank.
- Dispute an unauthorized transfer. If you believe your servicer debited your account in error, it’s best to try to resolve the issue with your servicer first. But you also can send a letter to your bank to notify it of an unauthorized withdrawal from your account.
4. Request information about cosigner release
It’s common for students to get private student loans with the help of a cosigner. But after you graduate, it might not make sense to have your cosigner listed on the account anymore.
Some private lenders are willing to release a cosigner from legal responsibility for the debt. The CFPB provides two sample letters to request more information about cosigner release — one for primary borrowers and another for cosigners.
5. Dispute credit report errors
It’s not uncommon to find mistakes on your credit report, which could affect your credit score and eligibility for new loans. That’s why it’s a good idea to request and review your credit report regularly.
You can dispute credit report errors with the help of these sample letters:
- Customize this letter from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and send it to the creditor that provided the incorrect information.
- Fill out and submit this sample letter to any credit reporting agencies that list the error on your credit report to notify them of the mistake.
6. Deal with debt in collections
Dealing with student loan servicers is hard enough, but the situation can get even tougher if your account is sent to collections. Not only can it damage your credit, but debt collectors can be annoying or even aggressive.
As a consumer, however, you have a right to be treated fairly. On this page, the CFPB provides several sample letters that can help you deal with debt collectors. You can:
- Request more information or proof of the debt. Debt collectors must provide proof that a debt they’re attempting to collect is, in fact, yours. You can send a letter to request documentation of a debt or even dispute that a debt belongs to you.
- Limit how debt collectors can contact you. If you set rules about when and how debt collectors can contact you, they must abide by them. You can provide instructions on when debt collectors are allowed to contact you or tell them to cease contact altogether. If you have a lawyer, you can direct debt collectors to correspond with your attorney instead.
Use the above sample letters from the CFPB and FTC to get the help you need. Customize these templates and then send them out to request information, make changes to your account, or enforce your rights as a borrower.
Hopefully, your letter will do the trick. But why not be prepared in case it doesn’t? While you’re waiting for a response, find out how you can escalate and resolve problems with your student loan servicer.
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