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Student Loan Borrowers Face Payment Processing Pitfalls

A new report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) reveals that the companies hired by lenders to collect payment for private student loans are not always acting in the borrowers’ best interest. In fact, sometimes their actions increase the total cost of higher education. The most common complaint deals with the problem encountered when borrowers try to pay off their loans early or pay them off in a certain order.

Oftentimes, it makes the most sense to pay off the student loan with the highest interest rate first, but the CFPB report found that loan servicers do not always do that. Instead, they frequently divide the payment or over-payment and apply it to all of the person’s outstanding loans. According to the report, these “payment processing pitfalls” can lead to increased costs, extended periods of repayment and harm the borrower’s credit profile.

The CFPB also found problems for borrowers who had multiple loans with the same servicer and were unable to make their monthly payment in full. They were oftentimes told by the loan servicer to pay as much as they could. But instead of putting all of the money toward the highest-rate loans, the loan servicer applied it evenly to all of the loans. This practice maximizes late fees and can intensify the negative impact of a single late payment to the borrower’s credit profile.

Another problem encountered by borrowers was when their loans were transferred to another service provider. These complaints included lost paperwork, processing errors that resulted in late fees and an interruption in billing statements. More than 3,800 complaints about private student loans were received between October 1, 2013 and September 30, 2013. 49 percent of these complaints were with Sallie Mae.

If you are having trouble making your student loan payments or you have recently defaulted on your federal or private student loans, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney. Although student loans are often not dischargeable in bankruptcy court, an attorney can help you eliminate other debts and obligations so you can take control of your finances and better handle your student loan debt.

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