BOSTON. The federal student debt pause is due to end Oct. 1, and a new team at Attorney General Mora Healy’s office is gearing up for any confusion and questions borrowers may face once the relief program ends.
State law, effective July 1, codified the “Student Loan Borrower Rights Act” in Massachusetts, including the establishment of a student loan ombudsman in Healy’s office to review and help resolve borrower complaints.
Three months before most federal student loans have resumed after the COVID freeze expires, Healy announced on July 1 that she has approached Arwen Toman, deputy director of her insurance and financial services division, as the new ombudsman. Erica Harmon is the Deputy Ombudsman.
“It’s very timely, right,” Healy said Thursday during a Facebook Live discussion with Senator Eric Lesser. “A group of people who are suddenly faced with this reality will seek help, information and resources on how to deal with it, because, of course, any number of people are also out of work. , at this time, which also affects their ability to pay. “
Healy said the goal of her office would be “to bring information to the public by making sure they have our student loan ombudsman’s office number,” adding that “we are staffed and ready with resources.”
U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Congressman Ayanna Pressly, and Connecticut Congressman Joe Courtney led a group of lawmakers last month, asking Biden to extend the hiatus until at least March next year. This letter was also signed by Senator Ed Markey and Congressman James McGovern.
Pressley, Warren and Healy also called on Biden to take action to get up to $ 50,000 in student debt canceled.
“I’m not a proponent of canceling all student loan debt, but I think there are things we can do now that will have a measurable and meaningful impact on the lives of student loan borrowers here in our state and across the country, and I really am. I think we would be much better for that, ”Healy said Thursday.
In addition to the Ombudsman, language in the Student Loan Rights Act – incorporated into the Economic Development Act signed by Gov. Charlie Baker in January – requires the State Banking Authority to license student loan services.
Lesser, a Longmeadow Democrat and sponsor of the bill on which the student loan law is based, noted on August 4 hearings planned by the department on rules related to student loan service licenses, unfair service practices, and standards of conduct.
“We fully expect service companies to create problems for these regulators,” he said. “So we need to make sure that students, borrowers and affected families open their eyes.”