The recent settlement of the lawsuit brought by a range of stadents against Navient (formerly known as Sallie Mae and one of the nation’s largest student loan servicing companies) has direct relevance for student borrowers in Colorado.
Nationally, more than 400,000 student loan holders will have their debts canceled or receive debt relief after the student loan servicing company was forced to reached a settlement with borrowers.
Navient’s move to settle came in response to lawsuits lodged by a coalition of state attorneys general who accused the company of exploiting borrowers and forcing them into illegitimate charges and interest payments.
The coalition included attorneys general from Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, California, Florida and a range of other states who have been pursuing the student loans giant, previously known as Sallie Mae, over alleged predatory lending practices that have impacted on hundreds of thousands of borrowers.
The agreement, which will have to be approved by a judge before it is finalised, cancels $1.7 billion in private loan debt owed by more than 66,000 borrowers and provides $95 million in restitution payments to approximately 350,000 federal loan borrowers who were placed on specific types of long-term forebearance.
And a good many of these borrowers are located in Colorado.
1500 Delaware borrowers to receive more than $5m in loan relief
Attorney General Kathy Jennings announced Thursday that Navient, one of the nation’s largest student loan servicers, will provide $1.85 billion in relief to student borrowers under a multistate settlement stemming from allegations of widespread unfair, deceptive, and predatory practices. More than 97% of Delaware’s $5.34 million share of the settlement will go directly to Delaware borrowers in the form of borrower restitution or private loan forgiveness.
“Addressing the student loan crisis is one of my biggest consumer protection priorities,” said Attorney General Jennings. “We have to recognize that even when the playing field is level, student borrowers are fighting an uphill battle. Between rising tuition and a generation of teenagers who were told that a four-year degree was vital to their success, student debt has become a crisis. With Day One debt burdens sometimes eclipsing six figures, it’s no surprise that thousands of people struggle to make ends meet. At a minimum, loan servicers should be expected to follow the law.”
The Delaware Department of Justice played a leading role in investigating Navient’s alleged misrepresentations regarding the dischargeability of private student loans in bankruptcy. Delaware’s investigation focused heavily on a private loan known as a “tuition answer loan,” which typically required borrowers to agree at the time of origination that the loan would not be dischargeable in bankruptcy. The DOJ’s Consumer Protection Unit reviewed promissory notes and interviewed nearly 100 Delaware borrowers during the course of its investigation.
The multistate investigation also reviewed further allegations of misconduct by Navient, including:
- steering borrowers into expensive “forbearances” to avoid default, which did nothing to reduce their existing debt burden or interest rate;
- failing to direct consumers to alternative repayment options such as income-driven repayment plans or public service loan forgiveness; and
- originating subprime loans for students attending for-profit colleges with low graduation rates.
As part of the settlement, Delaware will receive a total of $400,000 in restitution payments for 1,528 federal loan borrowers. Additionally, 145 Delaware borrowers will receive nearly $4.8 million in private loan debt cancellation.
Am I eligible for debt cancellation in this Navient settlement?
The loans in question were taken out primarily between 2002 to 2014. These private loans often came with a variable, rather than fixed, interest rate and a shorter window than federal student loans to make payments before the loans were declared to be in default.
The attorney’s argued that many borrowers who were struggling to make payments were not told about a federal “income driven” program that could lower their payments. Others were not told about a federal program that forgives some debt for public-sector workers.
According to Navient, states with borrowers potentially eligible for relief include Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin.
“Qualifying federal loan borrowers who were residents of one of the following states or had an address with a military postal code as of January 2017 will be issued a check in the amount of approximately $260,” Navient said.
“The agreement includes loan cancelation for approximately 66,000 borrowers who took out private student loans at Sallie Mae, largely between 2002 and 2010 and who subsequently defaulted. The vast majority of recipients borrowed prior to 2010 to attend certain for-profit schools, such as Corinthian and ITT, which closed years later once the federal government stopped lending at these schools. The total amount that will be canceled is approximately $1.7 billion in defaulted private education loans. Navient had already charged off virtually all of these loan balances, and has taken a $50 million charge for the remaining amount. Once court approval is received, borrowers and co-borrowers whose loans will be canceled will be contacted by Navient. Borrowers and co-borrowers do not need to take any action.
Are there other lawsuits against Navient still going?
Yes, a whole range of lawsuits against are still active, including the suit lodged by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
How do I find out if I qualify for debt cancellation or compensation?
Navient says it will be contacting borrowers who will receive loan cancellation following authorization of the settlement agreement in federal court. Borrowers eligible for a settlement payment will receive a postcard in the mail in the spring, according to Navient.
How to join the Navient student loan cancellation settlement
Once court approval is received, borrowers and co-borrowers whose loans will be canceled will be contacted by Navient. Borrowers and co-borrowers do not need to take any action.
How much could I get in the Navient settlement?
According to AP, in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania the average debt being canceled is around $27,000. In Washington state, it’s about $25,000.
When will Navient cancel my debts or provide compensation?
Borrowers who will see their private loan debt canceled will be notified by Navient by July 2022, along with a refund of payments they made on the loan after June 30, 2021, according to state officials. Private loan borrowers don’t need to take any action to qualify, AP has reported.
Borrowers who are eligible for a restitution payment of approximately $260 will receive a postcard from the settlement administrator this spring, state officials say. Checks are expected to go out in mid-2022.
What is the full list of 39 states that Navient has settled with?
The settlement was led by Pennsylvania, Washington, Illinois, Massachusetts and California, and was joined by attorneys general in Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Vermont and Wisconsin. All up, that’s 39 states.