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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Nothing to do but pay until we die’ – student loan debts soar among the over-60 crowd

by Bob Sullivan


It should come as no surprise that older Americans, when deciding which bills to pay and which to postpone, are sometimes neglecting their own health care. In 2014, for example, 39% of consumers age 60 and older with a student loan said that they skipped health care needs like prescription medicines, doctors’ visits and dental care. Only 25% of older consumers without a student loan did the same, the CFPB said.
Another problem facing older borrowers: Available options for relief, such as income-driven repayment, can be confusing. (You can go here to learn more about income-based and other student loan repayment options.) And the CFPB warns that loan servicers don’t always make getting help easy. Its report found several shortcomings in servicer treatment of older borrowers. Per the press release, a survey of complaints filed with the CFPB found older borrowers complain that servicers are:
  • Delaying or prohibiting enrollment in income-driven payment plans: Some federal student loan borrowers report that servicers are not advising them that they may have their loan payment amounts reassessed under an income-driven plan when their income changes. Instead, some consumers on fixed or reduced incomes report being placed in plans designed for borrowers with growing incomes. Older borrowers in default report that their Social Security benefits are offset to repay a federal student loan — despite their right under federal law to cure their default and seek payment relief under an income-driven plan.
  • Incorrectly applying cosigner payments to other loans owed by the primary borrower: Generally, servicers apply payments received across all serviced private student loans owed by the primary borrower. Some cosigners complain that their payments appeared short because they were spread out over all of the primary borrower’s private student loans. This practice can result in servicers charging cosigners late fees and interest charges, as well as reporting late and missed payments to credit reporting companies.
  • Failing to provide borrowers access to loan information: Some co-signers complain that they are unable to monitor the student loan that they co-signed because loan servicers did not respond to their requests for help in accessing account information. Others report that by the time the servicer sends the cosigner a notice of missed payments, the amount due has accrued fees and penalties. Some private student loan borrowers say they did not receive notice prior to a negative report to consumer reporting companies.
  • Threatening to offset private student loan borrowers’ federally protected benefits: Certain federal benefits, like Social Security benefits, are generally protected from collection for defaulted private student loans. Some older borrowers report that when the primary borrower fails to pay, servicers and debt collectors threaten to collect protected benefits.

Read more here.


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