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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

Department of Education streamlines borrower defense relief process

Federal Issues Department of Education Student Lending Discharge Borrower Defense

Federal Issues

On March 18, the Department of Education announced a new, streamlined approach for ensuring federal borrowers who attended institutions that engaged in certain misconduct are able to receive full discharges of their William D. Ford Direct Loan Program loans. The new approach—which rescinds a methodology announced in December 2019 that relied “on publicly available earnings data and a scientifically robust statistical methodology to determine harm”—will immediately create a path for borrowers with approved borrower defense claims to date to receive full loan discharges, including borrowers who already had their claims approved and received only partial relief. In addition, the Department said full relief under the new approach will also include requests to credit bureaus to remove any negative ratings tied to the loans, and reinstatement of a borrower’s federal student aid eligibility, where applicable.