As Paperwork Goes Missing, Private Student Loan Debts May Be Wiped Away

The troubled loans, which total at least $5 billion, are at the center of a protracted legal dispute between the student borrowers and a group of creditors who have aggressively pursued them in court after they fell behind on payments.

News Story (NATIONAL)

Stacy Cowley, Jessica Silver-Greenberg
New York Times (NYT)
July 17, 2017

Tags: Student Debt, Student Loan Forgiveness

Organizations mentioned/involved: New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG), National Consumer Law Center (NCLC), Legal Aid Society of San Diego (LASSD)


Judges have already dismissed dozens of lawsuits against former students, essentially wiping out their debt, because documents proving who owns the loans are missing. A review of court records by The New York Times shows that many other collection cases are deeply flawed, with incomplete ownership records and mass-produced documentation.

Some of the problems playing out now in the $108 billion private student loan market are reminiscent of those that arose from the subprime mortgage crisis a decade ago, when billions of dollars in subprime mortgage loans were ruled uncollectible by courts because of missing or fake documentation. And like those troubled mortgages, private student loans — which come with higher interest rates and fewer consumer protections than federal loans — are often targeted at the most vulnerable borrowers, like those attending for-profit schools.