RD875 - Annual Report Office of the Qualified Education Loan Ombudsman – January 1, 2022

Executive Summary:

The Code of Virginia directs the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) to submit an annual report to the House Committees on Commerce and Labor and Education, and the Senate Committees on Commerce and Labor and Education and Health on the implementation and overall effectiveness of the Office of the Qualified Education Loan Ombudsman (§ 23.1-234). Terms associated with the operation of the office are defined in § 23.1-231.

The following are the key findings from the 2022 annual report.

1. In its first three years of operation, the Student Loan Advocate worked directly with 406 education loan borrowers.

2. Outreach efforts focused on promoting the webpage (schev.edu/studentloan), participating in panels and conference presentations at state and national events and preparing for the launch of the education loan course.

3. Data collected on borrower cases identified three main issues for Virginia education loan borrowers: understanding the complexity of the loans, troubleshooting eligibility issues with the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, and filing Borrower Defense to Repayment claims against Federal Student Aid for borrowers who claimed they were defrauded or misled by their college or university.

4. The office generated a list of federal policy recommendations to address many of the issues that Virginia borrowers experience.

5. With secured funding from the General Assembly, the Qualified Education Loan Borrower Education Course (virginiastudentloanhelp.org) was launched in December 2021.

6. Virginia’s Student Loan Advocate worked with other federal and state advocates to prepare Virginia borrowers for the restart of loan payments in May 2022.