While many people have been able to pause student loan payments during the pandemic, some of those bills start arriving again later this year.
“The mental anguish that was caused by this whole thing has been pretty significant,” Ann Wysock said
Last spring, Mike and Ann Wysock and their three kids were planning to move to Scotland for new jobs, but they had to go in two shifts. Ann Wysock had some unfinished business battling a student loan servicer.
“When we came to find out that everything they had told us from the start to then was not true, that emotional upheaval was horrible,” she said.
Both Ann and Mike Wysock signed up for the federal government’s Public Service Loan Forgiveness program (PSLF) after earning doctorates in physiotherapy. It involves a 10-year obligation to work in public service, as Ann Wysock did as a therapist in public schools and her husband did at a clinic for patients with neurological trauma.
In return, student loan debt is forgiven. For the Wysocks, that was a combined $400,000.
But as Mike Wysock says, “The rules are just all over the place, and they make it purposely difficult to follow.”
“People have told the federal government by the thousands to look into this contractor,” he said
The contractor, FedLoan Servicing, oversees loans of 8.5 million student borrowers, but online comments of participants show things may not be going so well for those enrolled.
Massachusetts went after the servicer, accusing it of servicing failures that harmed borrowers. FedLoan admitted no wrongdoing and settled that suit.
FedLoan says “the vast majority of allegations” in the case were “unsubstantiated.”
After finishing all 120 months of their commitment, the Wysocks say getting FedLoan to fulfill its end of the bargain became a job itself.
“For more than 10 years, we submitted -- with exceptional detail -- our tax forms, our employment certification forms that they review over and over and over and over,” Mike Wysock said.
According to recent data, just about 5% of borrowers who’ve applied for the PSLF program that FedLoan administers have been approved.
“The accountability just doesn’t exist for these servicers, and they’re managing billions of dollars,” Mike Wysock said.
In July, FedLoan announced it would not renew its contract with the federal government at the end of the year.
“The federal loan programs, as managed by the U.S. Department of Education, have grown increasingly complex and challenging,” according to a spokesperson.
Those currently pursuing PSLF through FedLoan will eventually be matched with a new lender. In the meantime, keep record of payments, including the amount and the eligible job.
Complaints can be filed with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau if there are issues when a federal student loan switches over. It has a streamlined process, is very easy to use and the complaint status can be tracked.