PHEAA Faces Legal Action for Misleading Borrowers on Loan Status 

FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) headquarters in Washington, D.C., U.S., August 29, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo

United States – The bureau of consumer financial protection of the United States has filed a law suite against the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency regarding cases of alleged unlawful collection of loans, which has been discharged under the bankruptcy law in addition to producing wrong information concerning the borrowers to the credit reporting companies. 

Allegations of Misleading Borrowers 

In a complaint filed on Friday, the CFPB said the defendant, which operates as American Education Services, wrongly told the distressed borrowers that they had to continue paying. They discharged private student loans unless they produced clear court orders or until loan owners advised otherwise. 

Significant Financial Impact 

The CFPB stated that between 2017 and 2021, PHEAA sought or received payments on 7,934 of the loans through bankruptcy proceedings, assuming at least 177 of the borrowers that were entitled to a discharge, as reported by Reuters

These actions compelled some borrowers to spend thousands or tens of thousands of unnecessary dollars, or else their credit reports would be adversely affected due to their failure to make the payments as required by the servicers, as per the CFPB. 

“PHEAA has ignored its responsibilities and illegally pursued borrowers for loans they no longer owe,” CFPB Director Rohit Chopra said in a statement. 

The Harrisburg, Pennsylvania-based defendant processed approximately USD 17.8 billion dollars for Student loans at the end of 2023. It has not responded to inquiries on the matter and has not commented on the issue thus far. 

Friday’s action at the federal court in Harrisburg provided borrowers with a class action suit, a civil penalty, and a cease-and-desist order. 

The case is the second that the CFPB brought in May against PHEAA. 

Prior Allegations and Settlement 

On May 6, PHEAA promised restitution and USD 1.75 million to settle the allegation that it had disregarded thousands of borrowers who sought loan modifications for numerous years, including the initial year of the COVID-19 outbreak, as reported by Reuters. 

The case is CFPB v. Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, No. 24-00896, U. S. District Court of the Middle District of Pennsylvania.