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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

Biden Administration, DOE withhold payments to student loan servicers

Federal Issues Department of Education Biden Student Loan Servicer Student Lending

Federal Issues

On January 5, the Biden Administration and the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) announced they are withholding payments to three student loan servicers as part of their efforts to strengthen protections for student loan borrowers and ensure accountability among servicers. The three servicers were found to have collectively failed in sending timely billing statements to a total of 758,000 borrowers during their first month of repayment. Consequently, the DOE is withholding $2 million from one servicer, $161,000 from the second, and $13,000 from the third servicer based on the number of affected borrowers.

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona emphasized that the DOE “will continue to engage in aggressive oversight of student loan servicers and put the interests of borrowers first.” During this period, borrowers will not be required to make payments, and any accrued interest will be adjusted to zero. Additionally, the months spent in administrative forbearance will count toward forgiveness programs like Public Service Loan Forgiveness or income-driven repayment forgiveness. The DOE aims to ensure that borrowers are not negatively affected by these errors.

Furthermore, to protect borrowers from penalties due to late or missed payments during the repayment transition, the DOE recently sent a letter to credit reporting agencies and credit scoring companies to remind them that borrowers’ current payment behavior may not accurately reflect their ability or willingness to make payments.