April 23, 2007

Lenders locked out of federal student database

Posted in Student Loan News at 2:26 PM by Joe From Boston

Wow, I can’t believe it’s been a week since I posted last. Ironically, I haven’t posted because of the happenings in the student loan industry. Late last Tuesday night, and without warning, the Department of Education locked out all Lenders, Guarantors and Servicers out of NSLDS which is the nationals student loan database. For once, I’m going to write my own thoughts. Later I’ll post a more comprehensive view.

This database is where colleges report that you are a student, it’s where lenders report that you pay your loans on time or are in default. And it’s where lenders turn to verify that students are/are not in school or to collect loan balances for loan consolidation. It’s where Universities turn to get incorrect data on their students updated and corrected, so that loans can finally get disbursed.

So why did the Dept. of Ed. do this? Well, it’s a great PR move – they can be seen to be doing something. Right now student loan lenders are being vilified left and right – even the innocent ones – and so temporarily locking them all out probably seemed like the best PR move to try and keep their own reputation clean. (The Dept. of Ed is getting a lot of flack at the moment too).

However, this isn’t a solution. In fact, the only people who lose out are students!

Like all student loan companies, my company scrambled last week to work around the lock-out, and we’re back to functioning semi-normally. However, students are feeling the pinch now because loan companies are taking so much longer to process their requests. What about the students waiting for their loans to come out of default? Or students trying to put their loans in deferment or forbearance to avoid going into default?

In the end, it’s the students who will pay the price for this, not the lenders. And it’s not fair to the students.

1 Comment »

  1. You’re right on the money here! Over at CollegeLoanSearch we find it preposterous that the Department of Ed would claim that NSLDS is used on a wholesale basis for prospecting for customers. We’re utterly astonished at this. NSLDS does not reveal any indicative information (address, phone number, email), so what good is it once a record is found to be eligible for a marketing event? Not to mention the sheer logistics of harvesting the information via the web-based query and response facility. We estimate it would take over 150 years of computing time to identify the entire database.

    It’s just ridiculous. Yes, the only parties really effected by the whole decision is the student borrower.


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