Logistical hurdles abound for the Department of Education’s (ED) effort to restart student loan repayments following a nearly two-year hiatus, one challenge that remains somewhat out of their control is how servicers communicate impending system-wide changes — as demonstrated by Navient’s most recent correspondence with borrowers.
Following the news that Navient would be handing off its student loan servicing to Maximus, a change recently approved by ED, borrowers have begun receiving communications telling them that Aidvantage would be handling their loans.
Borrowers were likely to expect communications from Maximus, which is not referenced in an introductory email from Navient, updating borrowers on the status of their student loans and the impending transition of their servicer.
According to Heather Boutell, director of student financial aid at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, a borrower contacted her about confusion over the communication, having never heard of Aidvantage.
“He had heard in the news, and from me, that Navient borrowers would be moved to Maximus. His correspondence from Navient was all about Aidvantage taking over the servicing of his loan,” Boutell said. “I can understand why he was confused, as I didn’t realize everything would be marketed as Aidvantage.”
The correspondence contains a link to a web page with more details on the transition and does indicate that Aidvantage is the federal loan servicing unit of Maximus Education, LLC — but that reference is buried within an FAQ section that users would need to toggle to see on the page.
“We will reach out to ED to request more transparency about communications to borrowers so FAAs can answer questions and help facilitate a smooth transition to repayment,” said Karen McCarthy NASFAA’s vice president of public policy and federal relations.
The confusion, it appears, can be linked to press releases informing borrowers of the transition.
“FSA, Navient, and Maximus will communicate directly with borrowers about how this change affects them. FSA will also post specific information for borrowers assigned to Navient on StudentAid.gov,” ED said in a press release announcing the servicer change, making no reference of Aidvantage.
Navient then, in announcing the approval of the servicing handoff, specified the relationship between Maximus and Aidvantage.
“Navient and Maximus are focused on continuing to provide high-quality service to borrowers as they transition to Maximus’s servicing division, Aidvantage, by year end, after a series of communications to borrowers,” per Navient’s announcement.
Boutell said it would be helpful for all aid administrators to know about this naming convention to help keep students informed about what to expect from their servicers.
“Now that I know, I can let my students know,” she said.
Publication Date: 10/25/2021