Toward the end of 2021, a little-known federal contractor named Maximus took over the servicing of a portfolio of federal student loans previously managed by the scandal-plagued student loan giant Navient. Maximus now manages the loans of nearly 13 million borrowers who collectively owe half a trillion dollars of student loan debt. This move made Maximus, working under the brand name “Aidvantage,” the largest student loan company in the world.
But while millions of borrowers may cheer at the prospect of no longer being serviced by Navient, the rise of Aidvantage puts them at risk. As a new report from the SBPC and the Communications Workers of America outlines, evidence is already piling up of problems related to the transfer from Navient to Aidvantage, compounding the shocking range of abuses the company has already been accused of related to its role as the Department’s sole servicer for federal student loan borrowers in default over the past decade.
In light of Maximus’s past failures and evidence of ongoing abuses, all borrowers whose loans were previously serviced by Navient should take the following four steps to protect themselves during and after the transfer. While taking these steps, borrowers should make sure to obtain documentation for the status of any pending applications or complaints, and file a complaint if they are not resolved or are complicated by the transfer.
1. Update contact information. You should expect additional notices from Aidvantage over the coming months. These notices will provide important information about what to expect and whom to contact at either servicer with questions. To ensure you receive updates in real time, you should confirm that Aidvantage has your accurate contact information, and if any of your contact information changes, be sure to update it promptly. You can do this through your online loan account or by contacting Aidvantage.
2. Keep a complete copy of your account records. In case there are any lost records or disputes with future servicers, you should keep a copy of your complete account records to date in a safe place. This is especially important if you are pursuing Public Service Loan Forgiveness; make sure you have copies of all payments and filed Employment Certification Forms. To ensure you have a complete copy, you should both download your payment history and everything else that’s available on your online loan account, and contact Navient or Aidvantage as soon as possible to request that the company send you a complete copy of your loan records, since some loan records may not be readily available on your online account.
3. File a complaint at the first sign of a problem. All loan servicers, including Aidvantage, have a responsibility to be responsive to borrowers, to be knowledgeable and professional, and to maintain accurate records. If you experience an issue with Aidvantage, you should immediately file a complaint with the Department. You can also file complaints with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and with your state’s attorney general. Issues may range from the servicer refusing to provide records, refusing to acknowledge past payments, or falsely claiming ineligibility for repayment or debt forgiveness programs. If you have any outstanding requests or complaints with your servicer, call to ask for an update and take notes on what was discussed. If the issue still isn’t resolved, file a complaint and include your notes from the call. Especially given the monumental nature of this account transfer, you should not wait to file a complaint if you experience an issue with your account or servicer.
4. Join our effort to hold Aidvantage accountable and share your story today. We are concerned by stories borrowers have highlighted about Aidvantage as they’ve taken over accounts previously handled by Navient. If you’ve experienced any problems while interacting with Aidvantage, your story can help inform regulators and lawmakers as they oversee student loan servicers. After you file a complaint, please visit our contact us page to let us know and share your story. While we are not able to provide legal representation to individual borrowers, we can help connect you with resources and additional support. After sharing your story, we will keep you up to date on our work holding Aidvantage accountable.
There is still a lot that we do not know about how the transfer of accounts from Navient to Aidvantage will go, and how any change in servicing will coincide with when repayment resumes or with the call for student loan debt cancellation. Taking the simple steps above, staying aware of any updates, and looking out for and reporting scammers will put borrowers in a good position to navigate whatever changes take place.
Amber Saddler is Counsel at the Student Borrower Protection Center. A recent graduate of the Howard University School of Law, Amber joined the SBPC after completing a fellowship at the Alliance for Justice where she worked on federal judicial nominations and wrote about Supreme Court and lower federal court decisions affecting civil rights and access to justice issues.
Chris Hicks is a Senior Policy Advisor at the Student Borrower Protection Center, and focuses on the intersection of consumer and worker protections. He joined the SBPC from the American Federation of Teachers, where he helped lead AFT’s efforts to hold Navient and other student loan companies accountable for harming educators, faculty members, and other union members.