Navien NAVI t, the nation’s largest student loan servicer, just got some bad news. Here’s what you need to know — and what it means for your student loans. According to a Washington state judge, Navient — which manages $300 billion of private and federal student loans for 12 million student loan borrowers — deceived borrowers and their cosigners who sought to be released from their student loans. According to Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, the judge’s order issued yesterday says that:This is the first time that a judge ruled that Navient violated a consumer protection law since a state attorney general or consumer protection agency sued Navient. For context, a cosigner is a family member, spouse or other individual who assumes equal financial responsibility for your student loans when you have a limited credit history or bad credit. Often, the cosigner has strong credit and income, which can not only help you get approved for student loans, but also can help you get a lower interest rate. The goal of a cosigner release is for you to demonstrate enough financial responsibility through student loan repayment that your student loan servicer will release your cosigner from any further financial responsibility. Once you make multiple, on-time, consecutive student loan payments (typically for 12 to 48 months), your student loan servicer can release your cosigner. However, Ferguson says this didn’t necessarily happen, particularly for student loan borrowers who paid their student loans in advance. For example, Ferguson alleges that:Ferguson’s point is that Navient didn’t disclose to student loan borrowers that failing to make a payment every month — even if you paid student loans in advance — would disqualify you from meeting the requirement to make consecutive payments and you would have to start over before you could be eligible for a cosigner release. Navient, which spun off from Sallie Mae, has since changed this policy and now counts a lump-sum student loan payment as sufficient for multiple student loan payments. The lawsuit against Navient, which dates to 2017, isn’t over. Ferguson also alleges that Navient engaged in deceptive practices in servicing and collecting student loans as well originating risky subprime student loans to borrowers who attended for-profit colleges. Ferguson alleges that Navient misapplied student loan payments and improperly directed distressed student loan borrowers into student loan forbearance instead of income-driven repayment plans, the latter of which would have been more favorable to borrowers.“We believe our disclosure was clear and fairly applied under Washington state law,” Paul Hartwick, a Navient spokesman, told Marketwatch. “Navient’s focus has been, and continues to be, assisting student loan borrowers to successfully repay their loans.”Washington State’s lawsuit against Navient is scheduled for trial in April 2022.

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