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 Washington State.
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 Washington State.
Thousands of Washington borrowers eligible for $37m in loan relief
Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced that Navient will provide nearly $45 million in debt relief, restitution and costs to resolve the lawsuit.
Ferguson’s statement announced that the student loan giant would:
- Extend more than $35 million in debt relief, erasing the remaining debt of more than 1,400 Washingtonians who took out certain private student loans between 2002 and 2014 — an average of about $25,000 per person;
- Pay $2.3 million in restitution to approximately 8,900 Washington borrowers enrolled in forbearance for an extended period of time between 2009 and 2017; and
- Pay $7 million to Washington to cover costs from the complex, multiyear investigation and litigation, along with future enforcement of the state’s Consumer Protection Act.
“Borrowers receiving private loan debt cancellation will receive a notice from Navient, and they will receive refunds of any payments made on those loans after June 30, 2021. Washingtonians who are eligible for a restitution payment will receive a postcard in the mail from the Attorney General’s settlement administrator in the next several months. Federal student loan borrowers who may be eligible for a restitution payment are encouraged to update their contact information in their studentaid.gov account or create an account if they do not already have one,” the attorney’s statement said.
“Borrowers who will receive restitution or debt relief span all generations: Navient’s harmful conduct impacted everyone from students who enrolled in colleges and universities immediately after high school to mid-career students who dropped out after enrolling in a for-profit school in the early 2000s.
“Higher education should not equal a lifelong debt sentence — and student loan corporations do not have the right to deceive Washingtonians in order to maximize their profits,” Ferguson said. “We are holding the country’s largest student loan servicer accountable, achieving hard-fought corporate reforms, and helping repair the damage they did to Washington borrowers. We will continue fighting to prevent the financial abuse of Washington students overburdened with debt.”
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.