Education Department Orders Navient to Refund: A Look at the Allegations and Impact


The Education Department recently ordered Navient, one of the largest student loan servicing companies in the US, to refund millions of dollars to borrowers. The decision came after allegations that Navient had misled borrowers and engaged in abusive and predatory practices. In this article, we’ll look at the background of Navient, the allegations against them, the Education Department’s order for refunds, Navient’s response, and the potential implications for future student loan services.

Background on Navient

Navient was established in 2014 as a spin-off from Sallie Mae and is currently one of the largest student loan servicing companies in the US, with over 12 million customers. The company services both federal and private student loans and offers a range of repayment plans and options for borrowers.

Navient’s relationship with the Education Department goes back to the days of Sallie Mae, which was originally a government-sponsored entity that operated under the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP). After the government stopped guaranteeing FFELP loans in 2010, Sallie Mae transitioned to a private lender and changed its name to Navient in 2014.

Despite its size and prominence, Navient has faced numerous lawsuits and investigations over the years. In 2017, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and several state attorneys general sued Navient for allegedly violating consumer protection laws and harming borrowers. The CFPB also accused Navient of failing to properly apply payments, steering borrowers into costly repayment plans, and engaging in abusive and deceptive practices.

Allegations Against Navient

The allegations against Navient are wide-ranging and serious. According to the CFPB, Navient has engaged in a variety of abusive and predatory practices, including:

  • Failing to properly apply payments to borrowers’ accounts
  • Steering borrowers into costly repayment plans
  • Misrepresenting the requirements for enrolling in income-driven repayment plans
  • Providing inaccurate information about the availability of loan forgiveness programs
  • Harassing and misleading borrowers who were struggling to make payments

These practices have had a significant impact on borrowers, many of whom have found themselves trapped in debt and unable to access affordable repayment options. The CFPB estimates that Navient’s actions have cost borrowers tens of millions of dollars.

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The allegations against Navient have been the subject of several lawsuits and investigations, including a lawsuit filed by the Pennsylvania Attorney General in 2018. In that case, the Attorney General alleged that Navient had misled borrowers and engaged in unfair and deceptive practices. The case was settled in 2020, with Navient agreeing to pay $1.85 million in restitution to affected borrowers.

Allegations Against Navient (continued)

The evidence supporting the allegations against Navient is substantial. In one example, Navient was accused of steering borrowers into forbearance, a temporary suspension of payments that can be costly in the long run. According to the CFPB, Navient had an incentive to push forbearance because it was easier to process than other forms of payment relief, and the company received financial incentives for doing so. However, forbearance can be a costly option for borrowers because interest continues to accrue during the period of suspension, increasing the overall cost of the loan.

Navient has also been accused of providing inaccurate information to borrowers about their repayment options. In one instance, Navient allegedly told borrowers that they were not eligible for income-driven repayment plans, which can be a more affordable option for borrowers with lower income. However, many of these borrowers were actually eligible for the plans but were misled by Navient’s misinformation.

Overall, the allegations against Navient are serious and widespread, and they have had a significant impact on borrowers. These practices have contributed to the student loan debt crisis in the US, which currently stands at over $1.7 trillion.

Education Department’s Order for Refunds

In January 2021, the Education Department ordered Navient to refund $22.3 million to over 16,000 borrowers who had been wrongly placed in forbearance. The decision came after an investigation by the Department’s Office of Federal Student Aid found that Navient had improperly placed borrowers in forbearance between 2010 and 2015. The investigation also found that Navient had failed to properly communicate with borrowers about their payment options and had misled them about the consequences of forbearance.

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The refunds will be provided to borrowers who were charged interest during the forbearance period or who suffered other financial harm as a result of Navient’s actions. The Education Department has also required Navient to improve its practices and provide additional training to its employees to prevent similar issues from arising in the future.

The order for refunds is a significant development in the ongoing legal battles between Navient and consumer advocates. It marks one of the first times that a student loan servicer has been ordered to provide refunds to borrowers on such a large scale. However, the $22.3 million in refunds represents only a small fraction of the total amount that Navient has been accused of overcharging borrowers. In total, Navient has been sued for over $22 billion in damages, making the Education Department’s order for refunds just a small step in holding the company accountable for its alleged wrongdoing.

Navient has responded to the Education Department’s order by saying that it will comply with the decision and will work to improve its practices. However, the company has also disputed some of the allegations against it and has stated that it will continue to defend itself against legal action. The order for refunds is likely to have a significant impact on Navient’s financial position and reputation, and it may lead to further legal action by affected borrowers.

Navient’s Response

Navient initially responded to the Education Department’s order with a statement asserting that the allegations were unfounded and that the company had always acted in the best interests of its borrowers. However, the company also stated that it would comply with the order and refund affected borrowers.

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Navient has since outlined its plans for complying with the order, which include identifying and contacting borrowers who may be eligible for refunds, reviewing its policies and procedures, and implementing changes to ensure that borrowers are treated fairly and transparently. The company has also pledged to work with the Education Department to improve its services and ensure that all borrowers receive the support and assistance they need.

Looking to the future, Navient has stated that it remains committed to providing high-quality services to its customers and helping them manage their student loans effectively. The company has emphasized that it will continue to work with borrowers to find affordable repayment options and provide guidance on managing their debt.


The Education Department’s order for Navient to refund millions of dollars to borrowers is a significant development in the ongoing debate over student loan servicing and accountability. The allegations against Navient are serious and have raised concerns about the treatment of borrowers and the effectiveness of the student loan system.

While Navient has pledged to comply with the Education Department’s order and improve its services, there is still much work to be done to ensure that borrowers are treated fairly and transparently. The implications of this order could be far-reaching, as it may prompt other student loan servicing companies to take a closer look at their practices and policies.

For borrowers who have been affected by Navient’s alleged wrongdoing, this order provides an opportunity to seek redress and hold the company accountable for its actions. If you are a Navient borrower and believe that you may be eligible for a refund, we encourage you to contact the company and explore your options. By working together, we can ensure that all borrowers receive the support and assistance they need to manage their student loans and achieve their educational goals.