America's largest student loan company was also the most-complained-about financial services company in the country over the last three months, according to new government data released on Tuesday.
Navient, formerly known as Sallie Mae, was the subject of more consumer complaints than Wells Fargo, Bank of America, or credit reporting agencies like Experian, a report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said in its monthly report.
From November through January, complaints against Navient
Among the most serious allegations in the government's suit
A BuzzFeed News investigation found in that Navient call centers, the high-pressure environment prioritized sometimes led employees to cut corners with student loan borrowers.
In a statement,
Other student loan servicers also saw sharp increases from November through January, according to the CFPB report, in part because last year the bureau started taking complaints about federal student loans, in addition to private ones. Overall, the report said, complaints about student loan servicing increased 380%.
But with 1,400 complaints in the three-month period surrounding the lawsuit, Navient topped all of the country's major banks and credit reporting agencies. Overall, the company still has far fewer complaints than most big banks.
The CFPB has repeatedly found that the federal government's student loan servicing program is riddled with problems, making it difficult for borrowers to get information, correct errors with their loans, and enroll in repayment programs. But earlier this month, education secretary Betsy DeVos ordered the Education Department to halt a series of Obama administration efforts intended to streamline the struggling program.
Most significantly, DeVos backtracked on a memo from her predecessor that would have made a loan servicer's past performance — including a history of complaints — one of the most important pieces of criteria in awarding a lucrative government contract. That rule was expected to hurt loan servicers, including Navient, that attracted large numbers of consumer complaints.