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Pa. attorney general files suit against student loan company

Susan Snyder, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Business News

PHILADELPHIA -- The Pennsylvania attorney general's office filed suit Thursday against Navient, the largest U.S. student-loan servicer, alleging widespread abuses and deceptive acts involving its administration of student loans.

The suit against Navient Corp. and its subsidiary Navient Solutions, LLC, formerly a part of Sallie Mae, could affect hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians, Attorney General Josh Shapiro said, noting the office is seeking restitution for all borrowers affected by the practices.

That includes anyone who received private student loans from Sallie Mae and anyone who has had their federal or private student loans serviced by Navient and has had problems with repayment.

"Navient's deceptive practices and predatory conduct harmed student borrowers and put their own profits ahead of the interests of millions of families across our country who are struggling to repay student loans," Shapiro said in a statement.

Navient countered in a statement that the allegations "are completely unfounded and the case was filed without any review of Pennsylvania residents' customer accounts."

"We comply with the rules that govern the student loan program as set by Congress and the Department of Education, and there are no allegations that we have violated these rules," said Patricia Nash Christel, vice president of corporate communications, asserting that Navient-serviced borrowers are 37 percent less likely to default than those serviced by others.

The Wilmington, Del.-based company already is the subject of a federal lawsuit filed earlier this year by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Washington state and Illinois also have sued the company.

Pennsylvania residents have filed 1,059 complaints against Navient with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as of September, the attorney general's office said.

Navient has 12 million-plus borrowers nationally, more than six million of them through a contract with the U.S. Department of Education, and more than $300 billion in federal and private student loans.

The suit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania alleges the company has "engaged in practices that have harmed countless student loan borrowers by ... peddling risky and expensive subprime loans that they knew or should have known were likely to default, and ... while servicing student loans, failing to perform core servicing duties, thereby causing harm to borrowers and cosigners."

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