To help people navigate the student loan application process, we have prepared a brochure with an overview of the types of loans available to students (and their parents), along with some tips on applying for financial aid. To view this brochure, click here. More information on financial aid is available from the federal government here.
Repaying Student Loans.
Some people find it difficult to keep up with their student loan payments. If you find yourself falling behind, contact your student loan servicer immediately, because missed payments could send your loan into default. In addition, there may be several options available to you, including changing your repayment plan, consolidating your loans, and deferment or forbearance. If you default on your loans, your lender may take action to recover the money (e.g. garnish your wages, seize your tax refunds, deny future requests for federal student aid, etc.). Defaults are also typically reported to the credit bureaus, which could hurt your ability to obtain other forms of credit. More on this topic, including information about loan cancellation and forgiveness, is available here.
Student Loan Assistance Scams.
Student loan assistance companies purport to help borrowers manage and repay their student loans. Student loan assistance scammers often claim they have “inside information” or special relationships with lenders or the government and may charge thousands of dollars for things borrowers can do themselves for free. In some cases, student loan assistance scams provide one-size-fits-all services that do not work for everyone and which can have serious consequences for borrowers down the road. For more information on student loan assistance scams, view our flyer here.
For Profit Colleges.
If you or your child are considering enrollment in a for-profit college, do your homework up front to be sure that you are getting the best value for your money and avoid problems. Some for-profit college recruiters can be very aggressive in pressuring people to enroll, sometimes by exaggerating job placement rates or a student’s likely earnings upon graduation. Moreover, credits earned at for-profit colleges often do not transfer to other institutions. And in some cases, you may be able to get a better degree at a fraction of the cost elsewhere, such as at a community or technical college or state university. For more information on for-profit colleges, click here.
The Minnesota Attorney General’s Office offers the following materials, which are designed to provide information to Minnesota students and their parents:
Minnesota Office of Higher Education.
The Minnesota Office of Higher Education (“OHE”) licenses or registers most private colleges and out-of-state higher education institutions operating in Minnesota. The OHE has the authority to take action against the license of a private college or out-of-state higher education institution that violates Minnesota law. To file a complaint against a private college or out-of-state higher education institution, fill out the OHE’s Student Complaint Form (available here ) and send it to the OHE as follows:
Minnesota Office of Higher Education
1450 Energy Park Drive, Suite 350
St. Paul, MN 55108
The OHE also has information on preparing for college, financial aid, and applying to college on its website, www.ohe.state.mn.us.
United States Department of Education.
The Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid Ombudsman Group is supposed to offer assistance to people in resolving disputes and other problems related to federal student loans (e.g. resolving discrepancies with loan balances and payments, explaining loan interest and collection charges, identifying loan repayment options, clarifying requirements for loan deferment or forbearance and loan cancellation or discharge, and identifying options for resolving issues related to consolidation, service quality, default, bankruptcy, income tax refund offsets, and other concerns). You may contact the Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid Ombudsman Group as follows:
United States Department of Education
FSA Ombudsman Group
830 First Street Northeast, Mail Stop 5144
Washington, DC 20202-5144
The Department of Education also has the authority to oversee certain student loan servicers. To file a complaint regarding a student loan servicer, contact the Department of Education as follows:
United States Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue Southwest
Washington, DC 20202
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (“CFPB”) Student Loan Ombudsman has the authority to investigate private student loan complaints, identify problems in the private student loan industry, and advocate for changes to address them. The CFPB also has the authority to oversee certain student loan servicers. You may file a complaint with the CFPB’s Student Loan Ombudsman as follows:
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
Student Loan Ombudsman
1700 G Street Northwest
Washington, D.C. 20552
The Federal Trade Commission.
The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) is the federal agency that has authority to take action against deceptive, fraudulent and unfair business practices in the marketplace. It also provides information on scholarship and financial aid scams, as well as legitimate student financial aid. For more information or to file a complaint, contact the FTC as follows:
Federal Trade Commission
Consumer Response Center
600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20580
If you have a question or experience a problem related to a student loan or higher education institution, or have been targeted by a financial aid or education related scam, we want to hear from you. You may call us at (651) 296-3353 or (800) 657-3787, or submit a Consumer Assistance Request Form or Fraud Report Form to:
Office of Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson
445 Minnesota Street, Suite 1400
St. Paul, MN 55101