Session 22
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Session 22. Peeling the Onion On Complex Federal Student Aid Questions and Complaints Debra Wiley C. Michael Turpenoff. Peeling the Onion on Complex Federal Student Aid Questions and Complaints. A Review of … The Federal Student Aid Customer Experience and

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Session 22

Session 22

Peeling the Onion

On Complex Federal Student Aid Questions and Complaints

Debra Wiley

C. Michael Turpenoff

Peeling the onion on complex federal student aid questions and complaints

Peeling the Onion on Complex Federal Student Aid Questions and Complaints

A Review of …

The Federal Student Aid Customer Experience


How the Federal Student Aid Ombudsman Resolves Inquiries

Peeling the onion first peel

Peeling the Onion – First Peel


Tens of Millions of Contacts Each Year

Peeling the onion second peel

Peeling the Onion – Second Peel

Specialty Call Centers

* Default Resolution Group

* Federal Direct Loan Servicing Center

* Federal Direct Loan Consolidation Center

* Conditional Disability Discharge Unit (CDDU)

* National Student Loan Data System

Millions of Contacts Each Year

Peeling the onion third peel

Peeling the Onion – Third Peel

Escalated Contacts

Tens of Thousands of Contacts Each Year









Liaison &





Peeling the onion fourth peel

Peeling the Onion – Fourth Peel

Federal Student Aid Ombudsman

(created by Higher Education Act Amendments of 1998)

Thousands of Contacts

Each Year

Ombudsman operating principles

Ombudsman Operating Principles

  • An impartial, confidential resource

  • Available after other customer service avenues have been unsuccessful

  • Does not force solutions, mandate actions, or reverse decisions

  • Works cooperatively with others to resolve problems

Ombudsman process

Ombudsman Process

  • Listen – to both sides of the story

  • Research – find factual information

  • Document – contacts, activities, & findings

  • Develop – options for resolution

  • Report – problems, trends, and recommend change

The common case themes






How do I…?

Where do I…?

Does this mean…?

What can I do…?

What can you do…?

The Common Case Themes?

Customer profiles

Customer Profiles




The federal student aid ombudsman approach









The Federal Student Aid Ombudsman Approach

Within law and regulation (What can happen vs. what can’t)

Summarize outcome so that all involved understand what will happen, when, and why

Customer description of the problem & what will resolve it

Need full history of all aspects of the problem (enrollment verification, loan servicing history, and correspondence)

Facts-gathering conversations with the customer, school, loan holder, guaranty agency, referring office

Case sample 1 initial intake

Case Sample #1 – Initial Intake

On July 17, I received an e-mail from my lender stating that my loan is in forbearance. I did not request a loan forbearance.

The e-mail did not list contact information; I could not even readily find contact information on the lender’s website. I finally found a number I could call, and I get a different answer from each person that I talk with.


Case sample 1 continued

Case Sample #1 (continued)

On July 18, I mailed a check to pay off my loan principal. On July 27, the lender still had not received my check. On July 28, I wrote a letter to my lender for help. Now, I find out that I had interest accrue during the forbearance. As of today (August 29), I have not received a response. I plan to resume classes in the Fall. I am worried about my credit rating. I want my loans reclassified. Help!

Session 22

Next Process Steps?

You be the Ombudsman

Case sample 2 initial intake

Case Sample #2 – Initial Intake

I was going to nursing school at the time I broke my neck in February 1997. I also have many other medical conditions.

My guaranty agency (GA) told me to file a Total and Permanent Disability Loan Discharge. My doctor completed the form in 2001. After waiting months, the GA told me that they did not get this form, so I had my doctor complete another form in 2002.(continued)

Case sample 2 continued

Case Sample #2 (continued)

In 2003, my GA sent a letter to the doctor requesting verification of my disabilities.

My doctor then indicated my disabilities as partial. I am currently taking 15 medications, and can only be up 6 hours a day. I changed doctors due to long office waits and office location. I need help. The system was designed so someone in my condition could get relief, but I cannot if nobody approves the request.

Session 22

Next Process Steps?

You be the Ombudsman

Case sample 3 initial intake

Case Sample #3 – Initial Intake

During my last semester of high school, I also went to night school at a career college. The college told me I needed to get better English and computer skills for an internship so I could graduate. When I went back to the college, it was closed. I am on disability income, but I think I can work in the future. I get some help from the state but I need to get a grant. What can I do?

Session 22

Next Process Steps?

You be the Ombudsman

Case sample 4 initial intake

Case Sample #4 – Initial Intake

I requested that my lender consolidate my loans in mid-June. The loans were consolidated after July 1. I called the loan servicer, and they told me to continue to make payments as usual. I just received a letter showing an increased interest rate, increased payment amount, and my account is past due. Therefore, I called the loan servicer to complain, and they pretty much told me “too bad”.


Case sample 4 continued

Case Sample #4 (continued)

I was told that if I did not pay the higher amounts, I would be reported to collections and have a negative credit report. They did offer to suspend all of my payments, but that seemed ridiculous since I do want to pay my initial obligation. I believe I was poorly treated. What are my options? Why was my interest rate higher? Can my late fees be removed?

Session 22

Next Process Steps?

You be the Ombudsman

Washington d c contact information

Washington D.C. Contact Information

Debra Wiley, Ombudsman

Richard Kurtz, Case Management Reporting Officer

C. Michael Turpenoff, Operations Officer

Telephone: (202) 377-3800

Facsimile: (202) 275-0549


E-mail: [email protected] [email protected] [email protected]

Washington d c ombudsman specialists

Thad Bartkowiak

Connie Jesse

John McDade

Pamela Scott

Lynel McFadden

Melissa Lewis

Russell Trujillo

Washington D.C. Ombudsman Specialists

Contact Information

Telephone: (202) 377-3800

Facsimile: (202) 275-0549

E-mail: [email protected]

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