Resolving Financial Aid Disputes: Help from the Federal Government
By Ryan Laspina
Senior Specialist, Red Flags and External Reviews at APUS
Although every student-school relationship is intended to go smoothly, sometimes students might need the help of an ombudsman (an official who acts as a problem-solver and mediator) to resolve financial aid disputes with their university. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) has a Federal Student Aid (FSA) Ombudsman Group.
The FSA Ombudsman Group is neutral, informal and confidential. Its purpose is to aid students resolve disputes pertaining to FSA loans.
How an Ombudsman Helps Students with Financial Aid Disputes
An ombudsman can help if you have a discrepancy with your loan balance or loan payments. The Ombudsman Group is also able to resolve disputes regarding loan interest charges.
An ombudsman can help resolve issues pertaining to repayment options, default status, bankruptcy, loan deferments and loan forbearances if necessary. However, you should contact an ombudsman only after you have exhausted all other options to resolve an FSA loan dispute. Talking to your loan servicer should always be your first option.
It is important to remember an ombudsman will not automatically take your side in the complaint. They are completely neutral and make judgments based on the facts of your case.
The Ombudsman Group does not make overarching decisions. Instead, it works with all parties involved to come up with an acceptable solution for everyone.
The group will only accept complaints about FSA loans. If you have an issue with federal grants or private loans, you will have to take your complaint to the granting institution.
Contacting the Ombudsman Group
If you do need to get in touch with the Ombudsman Group, there are four ways to do so:
Mail: U.S. Department of Education
FSA Ombudsman Group
P.O. Box 1843
Monticello, KY 42633
Online: Fill out the Ombudsman Assistance Request Form
Hopefully, you will never have to contact the Ombudsman Group. However, if some issue does arise, know your options.
Remember: an ombudsman is a last resort. Please try to resolve your issue with the loan servicer, university, etc. before contacting an ombudsman.