• Central Research, Inc. was recently announced as a new servicer and will have loans transferred to them for future servicing.

There have also been changes to the servicer contracts. For example: the Department is reducing the minimum number of customer service hours Previously, servicers were required to have their contact centers open from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. EST on Mondays, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. Now, they are not required to have its contact centers open on Saturdays, and are allowed to close two hours earlier in the evenings on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays.

In addition to the changes to customer service hours, the Department’s contract modification with at least one servicer also allows them to have a higher abandon rate — or the share of calls where a customer hangs up before getting help — and stay in compliance with its contract. Previously, this servicer’s acceptable abandonment rate was 4%, now it’s 8%. That’s a 100% increase.

How do I prepare? Stay in touch throughout this process. It will be far easier for student borrowers to work through issues they have before the ramp-up period ends, while they have the opportunity to avoid delinquency, default and collections. If borrowers can make payments now, they should as interest is accruing. If they can’t make payments, this is a great time to renew or enroll for an Income Driven Repayment (IDR) plan. These plans can be changed when income changes significantly. Consider the timing. Knowing where your borrowers are in the borrowing lifecycle is key. Though the CARES Act has many resuming repayment at the same time, also consider where your students are in their Grace Period. Their timing may have been extended or there may be no change at all if they dropped below half time in early April 2023.

Offer student borrowers resources. Help prepare your borrowers for the next step with relevant resources and access to experts. Reminders, checklists, timelines, and even some information on general money management can go a long way to empowering students to take the steps they need for repayment success. See the Exit Counseling & Repayment Toolkit. We are all in this together – patience and empathy will be key. Many times with personal hardship, financial hardship follows so even the simplest of questions might be the first question. An empathetically fresh ear to each borrower’s concerns will help get to the root of the information you need to determine next steps in counseling and recommendations.


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