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Navient has sent or is still sending out correspondence to all qualifying private loans under the Navient/AG settlement – give that until the end of July per the settlement – if your address is current with your loan servicer, you will receive information if your loans are eligible. There are many factors that preclude someone from qualifying unfortunately including credit scores for some provisions. There is no court mechanism for us to bring up a borrower’s loan that we think should be eligible. I don’t believe the class action attorneys themselves have any remedy for that in their case.
The most we’ve been able to do is force a bankruptcy stay based upon likely inclusion in the AG settlement.
I fondly recall our very first Total and Permanent (“TPD”) case a few years back. An older borrower, as I remember, who was probably in her late 60s, reached out to us after she basically gave up trying to get her federal student loans forgiven even though she had qualified for Social Security Disability. She had sent her SSD approval letter to the Department of Education and its debt collector, but apparently both letters had been lost.
As a result, her Social Security continued to be offset and she received frequent and rude calls from debt collectors who persisted despite her telling them that she was disabled. No one cared. She was fairly distraught and at the end of her rope, with no one to turn to. Her servicer wasn’t helping. The SSA and the Department of Education weren’t able to help her. The debt collectors were even calling a friend of hers who had nothing to do with the loans. These calls persisted even after she had sent in a TPD application, and after she retained our services.
Once she retained our services, we filed a consumer collections case under Florida and Federal law for these violations. We also sent in a TPD application for her and obtained full forgiveness of her federal loans. Rather than her paying us for obtaining this result, we were able to put money in her pocket from the wrongful debt collection that had occurred, plus we were finally able to put her student loan debt to bed. The other side ending up paying our fees due to the collection violation case.
The Senate passed a bill a few weeks ago, the Joint Consolidation Loan Separation Act, to unravel the Joint Spousal Consolidation Loan program which has trapped many older borrowers who were encouraged to consolidate their loans with their spouses upon graduation. While that may have sounded like a good idea back in the 1990s to an uninformed borrower, folks were trapped in the program when it was discontinued in 2006, and therefore were not eligible for the lowest income driven plans, nor even public service because they did not have the correct loan types and could not change them through a consolidation.
Twenty years later, borrowers are still shackled with these spousal consolidation loans even in cases of divorce, or the death of one spouse. If passed, the Act would allow the loans to be severed, and would enable borrowers to access loan relief programs that they were previously ineligible for, such as PSLF, Income-Driven Plans, etc.
I just wanted to flag that as of 7/1/ 2022, PSLF Certification & Application Forms must be submitted to MOHELA. Section 7 of the form has been updated to reflect the new submission instructions if it is accessed using this link. However, if you generate the form using the PSLF Help Tool or access it from the FSA Forms Library, the instructions still say to send everything to FedLoan.
Hopefully, FSA will change this soon, but until they do, this could cause confusion.
We can still use the old form despite the changes in the document, but we would now submit it to Mohela.
Whoo Hoo! In a class action Sweet v. Cardona, the parties, including the Department of Education, have just announced a settlement of Borrower Defense to Repayment claims (“BDTR”). It’s still early, and we don’t yet know if this settlement will be approved by the Court or if some of the named schools will oppose it. We anticipate that the listed schools who are still in business will oppose the settlement or petition to have their school removed from the presumptive list. Here is a copy of the filed settlement agreement. So while this isn’t final, it’s certainly a huge step in the likely direction of where these BDTR applications are headed. It’s been a long time coming, and will result in much needed relief for student loan borrowers.
What should you know? Well, first of all, here is a list of schools that are presently in line for a full discharge.
For a FAQ, please go here. One of the parties who has been instrumental in obtaining this settlement, the Project on Predatory Student Lending, has prepared detailed questions and answers for those who attended these schools or have allegations of fraud under the BDTR program.
A close friend’s husband was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia several years ago. Little did we know at the time that it was quite likely due to his early childhood spent at Camp LeJeune. I learned that his mother used to mix his baby formula with water which came from the base’s water treatment facility. No one knew at that time from the early 50s to late 80s, the drinking water supply at the Camp LeJeune Marine Corps base in North Carolina was heavily contaminated with toxic, carcinogenic chemicals. The levels of toxicity were thousands of times higher than the maximum safe limits set by the EPA.
After many medical procedures and seemingly truckloads of medications later, my friend’s husband, is still among us; however, his life trajectory is much different now. Same with his family. A new normal one might say.
I’ve been reading up on the subject a lot over the past few days. I’ve learned that many, if not most, individuals who have lived at Camp LeJeune at some point in their lives, have not had the opportunity to even try and show culpability or obtain damages for the litany of health problems that have plagued them throughout the many years. This is because the government typically has sovereign immunity protection where it cannot be sued. Even when water contamination at Camp LeJeune is expected to be one of the worst cases, if not the worst contamination event in the history of the United States. Also, how do you prove causation over forty years?
A mortgage servicer called a “furnisher” for purposes of credit reporting is responsible for updates to a borrower’s credit report. Many times following a foreclosure, there is a limited time for the lender to seek a deficiency judgment. Here is Florida it is one year. If a year goes by, and the lender fails to seek a deficiency judgment then it waives the amount it is still owed after the foreclosure sale of a home.
Here’s the good news: If a lender fails to report a deficiency as having been eliminated, discharged or abolished, it is then reporting inaccurate information. This inaccurate reporting opens the door to the furnisher’s liability under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. Section 1681 et seq., (the “FCRA”) per the Ninth Circuit (California) in a recent case. Gross v. CitiMortgage, Inc., 20-17160 (9th Cir. May 16, 2022).
This case is being compared to a leading contempt case, where the Supreme Court in Midland Funding LLC v. Johnson, 137 S.Ct. 1407, (2017) found that a debt collector who filed a proof of claim in a bankruptcy that was obviously barred by the statute of limitations did NOT engage in false, deceptive, misleading, unconscionable, or unfair conduct so there was no violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. While this decision involved a different set of circumstances and a different law, it is clear that these two views could be considered as inconsistent.
I’m happy to say that we are starting to see Navient refund checks coming in! A client today received a check for $13,795 which represents payments he had made on a Navient private student loan after June 30, 2021. The remaining balance on these loans were forgiven per the Navient Attorney General settlement.
If you have questions about the Navient AG settlement, please watch and subscribe to our video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0m5rmBoj8eg
A FAQ is located here as well: https://navientagsettlement.com/Common-Questions?portalid=0.
We’ve made the difficult decision to not take any further clients who have requested assistance in filing Borrower Defense to Repayment applications. Importantly, it is NOT because the program itself won’t result in possible full forgiveness, we still expect that for many borrowers, but it is taking a longgg time. If you have filed a BDTR application, go here and click Manage my Application to find any updates on its processing: https://studentaid.gov/borrower-defense/.
We’ll still be doing all of our other student loan stuff, just not the BDTR applications.
Mostly our decision to not offer assistance in filing BDTR applications is because the Department of Education’s procedures have tied our hands. We can no longer file the applications online like we used to be able to do. Even reviewing the PDF draft applications hasn’t been working well because the application itself when forwarded by the client to our office does not always convey the information to view, many of the text boxes are blank unless and until the application form itself is revised per Adobe to correctly retain the data. It took our IT company some time to figure that out and only the Department of Education can modify their application.