April 14, 2024

Ohio borrowers navigate student-loan payment restart riddled with errors

by Nadia Ramlagan

new report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found the repayment process for federal student loans has been filled with errors.

Repayments began in October following a three-year pandemic-related pause. Since then, complaints of inaccurate bills, late notices and poor customer service have increased. Officials with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said they are working to protect borrowers from incompetent or predatory student loan servicers.

Rohit Chopra, director of the bureau, said borrowers should be cautious, especially when talking to third parties contracted by loan servicers for bill payments.

“If you’re having trouble, please file a complaint,” Chopra urged. “We’re often able to get those individuals across the country fixes – and sometimes, clear answers on what really needs to happen.”

The Supreme Court struck down President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan earlier this year, affecting almost 1.8 million Ohioans carrying student debt. Average student loan debt in Ohio is more than $34,000, according to the website educationdata.org.

Judy Dollison, president of the Better Business Bureau of Central Ohio, said now is the time for borrowers to carefully read and understand the terms of their loan and become familiar with legitimate student loan repayment assistance programs.

“It’s important to know what services those lenders provide,” Dollison noted. “And what are the legitimate companies that are part of the program.”

This week, the U.S. Department of Education released draft rules for expanding federal debt relief. Hearings on the plans will be held Dec. 11-12.

This article is an Ohio News Connection story.