A reader says she’s been screwed over. Here’s what she can do.
Question: I am on the PSL forgiveness program for my student loans. I have paid on time and in full for three years now – but only 35 payments are showing as being eligible. However, I was told last March that an additional 14 payments that are eligible were NOT posted to my account. I was told it would take six months for the additional payments to show. It’s now a year later, and they still don’t show and I am being told it could take another six months. How can I get this resolved? Are there individuals that help with payments not posting properly to loans?
Andrew Pentis, personal finance expert and certified student loan counselor at Student Loan Hero, responds…
According to the latest government data, nearly 40,000 borrowers have applied for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). However, 99% of people who applied for public service loan forgiveness have been denied.
Clearly, PSLF — probably the best known of the student loan forgiveness programs — has frustrated borrowers who’ve made the required 120 loan payments and believe they qualify. But there’s no telling how many other borrowers have had to troubleshoot their progress along the way.
Unfortunately, Sandra, you’re likely one among many.
With that said, at least you’re well on your way to the 120-payment mark. Now let’s see if we can help you receive credit for your unrewarded payments.
Stay on the line with FedLoan Servicing
The good news is, Sandra, you already know where to start. You know which payments are showing, so you obviously know where to view public service loan forgiveness qualifying payments. It sounds like you’ve already filed an Employment Certification Form and started managing your PSLF progress with FedLoan Servicing, which is the Department of Education’s exclusive servicer of PSLF.
Hopefully, each time you’ve completed the form, you’ve received a letter denoting your number of Public Service Loan Forgiveness qualifying payments. You’ve likely also checked your billing statements and logged into MyFedLoan for this information.
As for the correct number of qualifying payments, it’s unfortunate but not shocking to learn that FedLoan might have flubbed. One of the current nine federal loan servicers, FedLoan was sued by the state of Massachusetts in 2017 for allegedly mismanaging forgiveness programs for public service workers.
So to answer your question directly: Yes, it’s certainly possible that some of your qualifying payments are being processed and posted to your account incorrectly – or not getting posted at all.
FedLoan may just be delaying the process
From the description you give, it appears FedLoan isn’t disputing your requested number of qualifying payments. It’s only delaying the actual crediting of them. If, however, you find that FedLoan is no longer sure that the missing payments qualify for PSLF, you might need to provide them with W-2 forms and pay stubs to prove your eligibility.
You mentioned your efforts to talk out the problem — FedLoan Servicing can be reached at 855-265-4038 — but you could be tired of dialing.
Although it might not be such a satisfying answer, the first suggestion would be simply to keep at it.
I know of one borrower who claimed they didn’t receive credit for qualifying payments and had to check in with FedLoan monthly for more than half a year before finding a customer service agent who finally diagnosed the problem: Their payments weren’t initially credited because they were submitted while their loan was in “paid ahead” status.
If you’ve also made early or extra payments, then it’s possible that’s the source of FedLoan’s error.
Next steps to resolving your PSLF dispute
Unless there’s a similarly quick solution to your problem, Sandra, you’ll want to start a paper trail. Hopefully, you’ve kept records of each time you’ve been promised your payments-posting issue would be resolved. Because now’s the time to organize the files and state your case.
The Department of Education recommends submitting your request to FedLoan in writing (if you haven’t done so already) and including your supporting documentation. You can fax the servicer at 717-720-1628. Or you can use snail mail. But instead of directing your material to the servicer, you might be better off sending them to this specific office at FedLoan’s parent company:
Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency
The Office of Consumer Advocacy
1200 North 7th Street
Harrisburg, PA 17102
If FedLoan doesn’t help, contact Federal Student Aid
If you’re still not getting anywhere, it’s time to involve the Federal Student Aid (FSA) Ombudsman Group. The same records of your dispute (if you have any) will come in handy here, too. You’ll want to detail your timeline, including the 18 or more months it’s taken to see qualifying payments be credited to your account.
Start by calling the Ombudsman group at 877-557-2575. When you’re ready, you can fax over the paper trail of your PSLF problem to 606-396-4821, or mail it to:
U.S. Department of Education
FSA Ombudsman Group
P.O. Box 1843
Monticello, KY 42633
One of the FSA Ombudsman Group’s specialties is fixing discrepancies with loan payments. At the very least, you should expect it to help objectively mediate your dispute with FedLoan.
To double your efforts, you can also submit an official complaint to the FSA Feedback System. That’s one more way to make your voice heard.
Like changing your federal repayment plan or refinancing your student loans, beginning the chase for forgiveness is a big decision. Don’t let some poor servicing get in the way of achieving it.
Unfortunately, retracing your steps with FedLoan and involving an ombudsman might not turn out to be quick fixes to your problem. Still, they should help you eventually get credited with making those missing Public Service Loan Forgiveness qualifying payments.
And, hopefully, by the time you’ve submitted magic payment 120, FedLoan and the Department of Education will have figured out how to approve worthy PSLF applications.
Crushed by student loan debt and worried you’ll never pay it off? There is help available.
Published by Debt.com, LLC