Whether or not you believe the allegations, the jaw-dropping dossier of sins that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau accuses the nation’s largest student loan servicer of committing is useful for two crucial reasons.
First, it’s a reminder of just how much can go wrong when we force inexperienced young adults, especially, to navigate a complex financial services offering. We shouldn’t be surprised, but we should be ashamed: Elected representatives cut support for higher education; sticker prices rose; teenagers and others applied for admission, signed up for debt and, in many cases, finished their degrees. Then came the bombardment of confusing loan and repayment options.
Nobody stitched this crazy quilt on purpose, but most clear-thinking humans who approach the system for the first time conclude that we are insane for allowing it to evolve this way.
Second, the bureau’s complaint offers a road map of sorts. For every major infraction that it accuses Navient, the servicer in question, of committing, there is at least one defensive move that borrowers can make to sniff out problems or keep them from happening in the first place.
Let’s take them in order: