Dealing with a student loan issue can be terribly frustrating. Errors are all too common, and when they do happen, they can be very difficult to fix.
Of all the reader emails we receive, the most common boils down to the following: Sallie Mae/Navient did X… they should have done Y… what do you suggest I do?
When resolving any student loan issue, the best thing you can do is get all your ducks in a row. If you had conversations via email, have all of your emails handy. If it is a billing issue, have your lender statements and your bank statements ready to go. Your goal should be to have any document that might be useful at your fingertips.
Where do I go for help?
Normally the first call to make is to the general customer service number. The person on the other end of the phone should be trained to help you find a solution, or to put you in touch with the right person. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
One practice that can be very helpful is to make sure that the person you are talking to has the authority to fix your problem. For example, suppose you submitted a payment over the phone and it was supposed to be applied towards loan A. Instead of applying it towards loan A, they service representative applied it towards loan B. When you call to have your issue fixed, make sure the person you are chatting with can help. You can ask them by saying: “I’m calling about a payment I made where funds were applied to the wrong account. Are you able to credit the proper account so that my payment is processed correctly?” If they cannot help you, ask to be connected to someone who has the authority to fix your problem.
Calling up the food chain
If traditional customer service does not work, Sallie Mae and Navient both have customer service advocates. These individuals work for Sallie Mae or Navient, but they should be in a position to rectify any errors made. Think the customer advocate as ombudsman of sorts.
If you want to reach out to either customer advocate, their contact information is as follows:
Sallie Mae Advocate
Office of the Customer Advocate
P. O. Box 3349
Wilmington, DE 19804-4349
Navient Customer Advocate
Office of the Customer Advocate
P. O. Box 4200
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18773-4200
What if Sallie Mae or Navient isn’t helping at all?
If you have done everything you can do with the company and not gotten anywhere, you still have options.
If you have Department of Education Loans (better known as federal loans), you can submit a complaint to the Department of Education Ombudsman. The Ombudsman page with the Department of Education has a great explanation of the process, as well as contact information for getting things started.
If you have private loans, the Department of Education Ombudsman will not help. Fortunately, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau can be of assistance. If you file a compliant against your lender with the CFPB, they will be required to respond to explain their side of the situation. Having the CFPB act as an intermediary lets Sallie Mae/Navient know you are serious, and it also can help shed light on the issues to all parties involved. Here at the Student Loan Sherpa we have previously discussed the steps to filing a Student Loan complaint with the CFPB.
Some final thoughts
Often getting an issue resolved comes down to your patience and ability to explain the problem. Yelling, losing your temper, or getting frustrated will only get in the way of getting your issues resolved. The best thing you can do for yourself is to get the person on the other end of the phone on your side. If they want to help you, things will be much easier.
One thing to remind yourself is to focus on the facts, not your feelings. If you complain by saying something isn’t fair, you are not going to get very far. If you focus on the facts of your particular issue, you will get further. You should try to fill in the blanks on the following before you make your call:
I have an issue with Sallie Mae because they ______________________.
This was improper because ______________________.
In order to fix this issue, I need someone to ______________________.
If you are able to explain what your issue is, why it is an issue, and how to get it fixed, your odds of success will be much higher.