Department of Education Seeking Single Loan Servicer


May 23, 2017 10:23 AM
by Susan Dutca
The U.S. Department of Education will offer a contract to a single loan servicer to manage its $1.2 trillion student loan portfolio, which contains over 43 million borrowers. Instead of keeping its current contract with four different services, the ED will award Navient, GreatNet or the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) the contract. What exactly does this mean for borrowers?

The U.S. Department of Education will offer a contract to a single loan servicer to manage its $1.2 trillion student loan portfolio, which contains over 43 million borrowers. Instead of keeping its current contract with four different services, the ED will award Navient, GreatNet or the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) the contract. What exactly does this mean for borrowers?

With the change, service providers would no longer be required to provide information in Spanish, and online calculators that help borrowers determine their pre-payment amounts could disappear. Also, there would be less outreach to borrowers in the income-driven repayment program. "Some of the things that are being stripped out here are definitely ways to save money in the system," according to an Associate Director for Post-Secondary Education at the Center for American Progress. The changes would save taxpayers an estimated $130 million over the next five years, according to Department officials.

Critics of this plan claim that the "Education Department will be overly reliant on a single student-loan company." Several state attorneys voiced their concern with Secretary DeVos' decision to rescind the Obama-era memos; that "[rolling] back essential protections imperils millions of student-loan borrowers and families." Guidance from the Obama administration "called for the creation of a single online platform that all borrowers would use to make payments, regardless of which server they were assigned." Department officials defend the plan, maintaining that the "new system would create efficiencies in oversight by holding the primary servicer accountable."

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