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OSLA’s website betrays a more hometown feel. Though not very modern, it seems pretty straightforward, with informational links and downloadable forms available on the front page. OSLA has the typical web portals and availability over email and phone.
Their office is also open for borrowers to visit during the week, which is different from the mega-servicers like Navient or Nelnet, who don’t advertise in-person visits.
OSLA’s primary business comes from servicing federal student loans. By the end of 2009, it had serviced $1.6 billion of student loans. OSLA solely serviced FFELP loans for many years, before being assigned Direct Loans after the program was created.
In terms of quality of service, OSLA has very few publicly posted complaints. Frankly, this is pretty refreshing since many servicers have hundreds of complaints posted online. Whether this is due to OSLA’s small size or because it is a high-quality servicer is not clear. It could be a mixture of both.
However, there are some strongly-worded complaints that do appear on the websites of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Better Business Bureau, and various other places around the web. They may shed light into some of the ongoing issues that borrowers with loans serviced by OSLA experience.
Suddenly In Default?
No one wants to be in default. But usually — and I say, usually — if the loan is solely in your name, you know when you haven’t been making payments. Imagine logging in to your student loan account and seeing you’re in default with no prior warning.
This happened to an OSLA borrower. First, she realized her online account was displaying her one loan as two loans. Even worse, one was in default. Since the borrower had consolidated her multiple loans into one loan years prior, she was confused how this was possible. She noticed the change after she had inquired about changing her payment amount.
While OSLA acknowledged that the conversation about the payment plan happened, they didn’t seem to give an explanation at the time of writing as to why the account showed the loan split in two.
After communication with the company, the borrower wrote more: she seemed to have not been informed about the nature of her repayment schedule and payment amounts some years before. It’s not clear whether she misunderstood or the servicer did not do due diligence to inform her properly. Still, whether the consolidated loan displays as multiple parts or not, it can never be partially in default. This remains a mystery.
Customer Service Confusion
When you have a technical issue with your loan account, the ideal scenario is to contact customer service and get it resolved. But when customer service is evasive and confusing, it can make the matter several times worse than the original problem.
One woman was attempting to pay loans serviced by OSLA for her parents, who are the borrowers, as well as change the address on the account. Her father had himself called asking for help when a payment wouldn’t go through and the address wouldn’t change. When that didn’t resolve the matter, the daughter called on behalf of her parents.
Despite having the account information and her father’s Social Security number on hand, she was blocked from proceeding with the account because her father had not signed a release to her. The daughter said that she felt customer service failed to clearly explain any of their procedures to her. She left the call feeling confused and unheard, the payment problems still unresolved.
Reporting Wrong Information To Credit Bureaus
A bad mark on a credit report can be the fatal blow to your ability to get a mortgage, a car loan, a rental, and much more.
One unfortunate borrower reported that OSLA was reporting incorrect information to the credit agencies. To make matters more unfortunate, the borrower was in the middle of attempting to secure a mortgage. The borrower’s loans were showing up 90 days delinquent and compromising their credit score.
The borrower said that when they were allegedly delinquent, the loans were actually in forbearance. The borrower also said they had submitted multiple documents showing that this forbearance took place.
Their case was fairly urgent because they were right in the middle of the homebuying process and needed to move to start a new job. (A job they specified had been made possible by the education that had been financed by these student loans.) The complaint was closed, but it’s unclear if the borrower ever got the problem resolved or was able to purchase a home.
Navigating A Slow System?
A smaller servicer means less personnel. While ideally the ratio of borrowers-to-employees would be appropriately scaled, this may not always be the case.
Several complaints online detail multiple emails sent to OSLA with no or slow responses, being put on hold for half-hour stints, and follow-ups that borrowers waited for days to receive.
And while the OSLA website may appear straightforward to me, that outdated look may speak to larger issues with navigation and access. Over the years, several people have complained about the difficulty of making payments on the website, which ostensibly should be the easiest action one could possibly do on a servicer website.
Help Beyond OSLA
The good news is OSLA looks like one of the better servicers out there. But that doesn’t mean they haven’t made mistakes or need improvement. If you are having issues with OSLA, or any of your servicers, you aren’t alone.
Whether you’re in the middle of dealing with a problem or just trying to prevent one, it’s important you are vigilant about your loans. Frequently log in to your account online or review your paper statements. If you see something you don’t understand, address the problem immediately.
Because we’ve seen that a servicer’s customer service is not always helpful, you may want to do your own research about your particular issue. This may make your experience with your servicer more productive, or just allow you to find other ways to solve the problem.
Vet your sources carefully, though. Especially if you’re struggling to make your payments and may be delinquent or in default, you don’t want to worsen an already precarious situation.
If you are having trouble making payments on your federal loans, or perhaps you are just confused about what your options are, we recommend talking to Ameritech Financial by calling 1-866-863-3870.
They work with you to assess your loan situation and help you to enroll in the right payment plan for you. If you’re eligible, you could get on track for forgiveness. You always remain in control of your loans and your payments, but Ameritech Financial will guide you throughout the process. They will even fill out your paperwork for you.
Have you ever had any of these problems with your student loan servicer?
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