RD6 - Annual Report: Office of the Qualified Education Loan Ombudsman – January 1, 2023

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 four years of operation, the Student Loan Advocate has worked directly with 572 education loan borrowers.

2. Outreach efforts focused on promoting the Qualified Education Loan Borrower Education Course (virginiastudentloanhelp.org), which was launched in December 2021 as well as participation in panels and conference presentations at state and national events.

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 the Limited Waiver 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. Virginia’s Student Loan Advocate worked with other federal and state advocates to address issues related to loan servicer changes, the president’s Debt Cancellation program and anticipated eventual restart of loan payments sometime in 2023.