We’ve noticed over the past few months that some of our clients and many other borrowers have been reporting that they are having no luck getting their federal loans in forbearance after they’ve filed a Borrower Defense to Repayment (“BDTR”) application. These forbearances are simple to request and are supposed to be automatic. Basically, you check a box requesting the forbearance in the application. The DOE is supposed to automatically grant the forbearance while the review is under way – a process that may take a year or even longer.
However, under Secretary DeVos’ watch, the BDTR department has basically been gutted, with only a handful of people working to process what appears to be approximately 1200 claims received per week. So the work isn’t getting done.
So who’s responsibility is this to make sure the borrower is being placed on forbearance as they should – DOE, the servicer (such as Navient, AES, Great Lakes, FedLoan, Nelnet), or both? That is the question we are now looking into.
To compare: many of our clients in Florida have automatically been placed into a hurricane forbearance – even when they haven’t asked for it, don’t want it and have suffered no hurricane damages. That’s automatic depending upon which county our client resides. In some cases it’s greatly appreciated it – I’m just making the point that the servicer is unilaterally applying a forbearance when they learn that our client “may” qualify simply by living in Florida in an affected county.
The damages can be significant. If the forbearance isn’t timely approved, sizable federal student loan payments are due. Late fees are applied to the accounts. Credit reports are dinged – repeatedly for months in some cases. Perhaps someone is denied a car loan or home loan, or their credit card interest rates or minimum payments go up. All of this are usually violations of the FDCPA, FCCPA and the FCRA.
For more information and to see if you qualify for recovery due to a delay in granting a BDTR forbearance, please contact us at Christiearkovich.com
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