April 20, 2019

Your Money: Your Student Loan Servicer Will Call You Back in a Year. Sorry.

I started making inquiries with both the Department of Education and FedLoan about a month ago. Since then, the story that FedLoan has told borrowers has started to change a bit: from a long estimated wait time, to a refusal to render a guess. I asked readers to take careful notes about their conversations.

Nicole Skrzyniarz, a physical therapist who lives in Medford, Mass., said she had been requesting a review since March 2018. But when she asks how long it will take, she gets different answers. “Three months, six more weeks expedited, up to one year and, today, ‘a long time; nobody should have given you a time frame,’” Ms. Skrzyniarz, who works at a nonprofit hospital, wrote in an email last week.

On Wednesday night, Katherine Cejda Bailey, who counsels children and families in a Memphis hospital, pressed a FedLoan phone worker for an updated timeline. She said the representative had told her that even expedited reviews “are taking forever.”

Kyle Stefano, a Sacramento social worker for the homeless, thought FedLoan had botched her initial inquiry. Then, she said, she was told that she shouldn’t bother following up for now because FedLoan was prioritizing reviews for people who have already made 120 payments. The reason: increased media attention. The representative would not offer a timeline for her case. “It’s a mess,” Ms. Stefano told me.

FedLoan’s own phone representatives seem to be losing patience, too, according to an email from Ms. Keller, the school counselor. During a call to FedLoan this week, she asked whether her account would just stay under review until she simply gave up. She said the rep had told her: “That about sums it up. It’s not O.K. how they are treating people.”

I asked FedLoan and the Education Department about these problems. I heard back from the Education Department, which said it would speak for them both. “Any excessive delay in customer service is unacceptable,” the department said.

“We understand the time it takes for borrower accounts to be reviewed is a problem, and we are working with our loan servicers to fix it,” said the department’s press secretary, Liz Hill.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/12/your-money/public-service-loan-forgiveness.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

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