By Antonio Iannetta
Students at William Paterson University have begun to realize and fear, the impact of a major lawsuit against Navient, a student loan company filed January 18.
Navient, formerly part of the loan company Sallie Mae and one of the United States’ largest servicers of loans, is being sued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for allegedly failing borrowers. According to the bureau’s website, consumerfinance.gov, Navient deceived customers on multiple fronts including losing payments or not properly counting them, misleading people who are trying to repay their loans and more.
“I was never one to think that there would be issues like this,” said Ahbaab Hussain, a 23-year-old computer science major. “But after maybe a year or two of paying it, it didn’t seem like it was doing anything to it. I was wondering maybe, in the back of my head, is there anything shady going on?”
Repaying student loans is always a tedious process, but if the allegations by the CFPB prove to be true, many of Navient’s 12 million clients have been wronged. Loans will have gone up or been improperly settled without notice, inevitably setting back many who have already been trying to compensate in other fields.
“I guess I can speak for a lot of people when I say that I’ve literally had to have a very tight budget,” Hussain said. “Life of a college student, you can’t just go out every night. You don’t pay for your school, you can’t go to school.”
In addition to the lawsuit, Navient was also hit with a first class action brought up by an individual, instead of a government entity. This new action asserts that Navient purposefully applied loan payments to places they should not have, letting them illegally collect extra interest and revenue.
“From what I know, a lot of people are dependent on student loans specifically to get through college,” said Natasha Go, a 23-year-old senior. “The fact that the company they need to rely on for their money is getting sued, suddenly raising interest, that’s really hurtful for those who are trying to get through college.”
Go added that students who need a reliable source of money like student loans may need to modify their schedules or drop college altogether if loans become too much to handle. Though Navient supposedly has not been informing customers of increases in loans or if they are not properly being paid, a sudden cut to the money received will have an immense effect on such students.
“There’s always a responsibility to the consumer to be aware of these systems and the way that kind of stuff works,” said Joseph Coveo, a 20-year-old criminal justice major. “But I can see where that would become misleading and become an issue.”
Anxieties were also raised over whether or not other groups may follow Navient’s lead, regardless of whether or not they are found innocent.
“You have these multi-billion dollar companies that are robbing people blind,” Hussain said. “Wells Fargo came out with theirs. If one person can do it, guaranteed other people can do it.”
“I feel like there’s already some things that other companies have done, but not on a more public scale like Navient did,” Go said. “But I think that if Navient gets let off the hook, it depends on what will happen to people. It depends on how the backlash of this lawsuit will affect the trust of students.”
Regardless of the outcome, millions of students across the country will require student loans in order to get through college. Not all students have an innately negative view of loans, though most are skeptical.
“My loans are going to be paid for by military,” said Leonardo Liberato, a 22-year-old junior with around $20,000 in loans. “I think student loans are really beneficial, to receive a higher education. But then again, everything’s a business.”
Liberato added that though many students take out loans with the intent to graduate, few are often in the proper situation to repay them. He said he believes that those some student loans are “setting you up, your life and your career to get started in debt.”
“There’s a lot of countries where you can go to school for hundreds of dollars,” Hussain said. “And we’re here, with hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
He also expressed hopes that one day the education system can proceed to a point where students can be educated without “monetizing education.”
As of now, dates for hearings on these actions are unknown.