Former FSU teacher and national weather service meteorologist Bill Cottrill says he asked the right questions. Cottrill was 6 years into his student loan payments when he called Navient, then Sallie Mae, about the loan forgiveness program.
According to a class-action lawsuit filed in federal court, Cottrill made 120 payments, about $130,000 worth, on time — moves that should have freed him from the remainder of his balance. But instead of loan forgiveness after 10 years he was told he had the wrong type of loan.
Tampa student loan attorney Christie Arkovich filed the suit. She accuses Navient of misleading Cottrill and others about the qualifications for debt forgiveness.
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For Cottrill it means delaying retirement another decade. We asked Navient to respond to the allegations in the suit, but they refused to comment on pending litigations.
The suit says Navient failed to advise Cottrill and thousands of others to convert their loan into what's known as a direct loan in order to qualify for forgiveness.
The forgiveness program just turned 10 years old. Many of those affected won't find out about their loss until they've paid a decade and stayed in a certain job in order to qualify.
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ABC Action News reached out to Navient who said they can't comment on either of the two pending cases or the specific consumer accounts. However, they did release the following statement:
"At Navient we are on the front lines of repayment every day, so we know how complex the federal loan program can be. That is why we have made a series of recommendations to policymakers to simplify the program. In this case, Public Service Loan Forgiveness was created by Congress solely for Federal Direct Loans. A borrower’s loan type is stated in the loan contract and on other multiple documents, and our representatives take care to explain Public Service Loan Forgiveness eligibility to interested borrowers and refer customers to complete an Employment Certification Form annually to ensure they are eligible."