May 23, 2013


Hey, NELNET titans, how much you gonna pay those 300 new employees?

Enough to buy a place in Maine like Mr. Bouc? Or enough for them to buy a lot in “Big Sandy?” Just curious.

Below is an article that gives an opposing view about the future of predatory student loan companies. Oh, excuse me, what’s their latest euphemism for predatory debt “servicing” aka “collection” company?

Yes, that’s right, NELNET’s now an “Education Finance Company.”

Student-Loan Collection Targeted for Overhaul in Congress
By John Hechinger –
Congress will consider overhauling debt collection in the $100 billion-a-year U.S. student loan program, replacing it with automatic withdrawals from borrowers’ paychecks tied to their income — a system used in the U.K.

Legislation that Wisconsin Republican Representative Tom Petri plans to introduce would require employers to withhold payments from wages in the same way they do taxes. Payments would be capped at 15 percent of borrowers’ income after basic living expenses.

U.S. Representative Tom Petri’s bill would require employers to withhold payments directly from borrowers’ paychecks in the same way they do taxes.

The bill follows growing concern about the burden of $1 trillion in outstanding student loans, which now exceed credit- card debt.

Under the new system, the government would NO LONGER NEED TO HIRE debt-collection companies [aka NELNET] and charge fees that add as much as 25 percent to borrowers’ loan balances, leaving defaulted former students even deeper in the hole.

“This doesn’t mean leaving taxpayers on the hook if a student borrows too much — everyone would still pay back what they borrow under this system,” Petri said in an e-mail.

“It does mean providing much stronger protections against the kind of financial ruin that is all too prevalent in our current system.”

The plan would resemble those in the U.K., Australia and New Zealand. Since the money would be withdrawn automatically and tied to income, borrowers would no longer have to negotiate with collectors and loan-servicing companies, which often offer a confusing array of deferral and forbearance options after a job loss or illness. The Education Department would manage the withdrawals, with help from the Internal Revenue Service.

In the U.S., borrowers currently must ask to be enrolled in income-based repayment programs and many don’t because they don’t know about them or COLLECTION COMPANIES DON’T TELL THEM.

In the election campaign, President Barack Obama touted the income-based program as a way to make it easier for students to pay back their loans, while unsuccessful challenger Mitt Romney said it encourages students to take on more debt.

Last year, 5 million borrowers were in default — generally meaning they had failed to make payments for at least 270 days — on $67 billion in loans, more than twice the amount in 2003. Through the new system, based on experience in the U.K., 98 percent of borrowers could meet their loan payments through automatic payroll withholding, according to Petri’s office.

The Education Department already has the power, without a court order, to seize a part of wages, tax refunds and Social Security payments to collect on student loans. There is no statute of limitation.


The bill would all but eliminate the government’s need to hire private debt-collection companies, which have drawn criticism for insisting on stiff payments even when borrowers are eligible for income-based repayment. Those companies’ tactics and commissions were the subject of aBloomberg News article in March.

Last year, debt-collection companies — working directly for the Education Department [aka NELNET] or for state agencies — received about $1 billion in commissions, Bloomberg News reported.

Such collections, which can follow borrowers into retirement, “can ruin people’ lives,” said Justin Draeger, president of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, a Washington-based nonprofit group. “The sad part is that borrowers already have an income-based repayment option but they aren’t taking advantage of it.”

Interest Cap
The legislation would tie the interest charged to Treasury market rates. Currently, students in the most popular program pay as much as 6.8 percent.

In another boon to borrowers, the plan would cap interest owed at 50 percent of a loan’s face value at the time of graduation, giving a break to lower-income borrowers who take longer than the standard 10 years to repay loans. For a student who took out $27,000 in loans, about the national average for a graduate of a four-year program who borrowed, the interest couldn’t exceed $13,500.

Student loans, which can rarely be canceled through bankruptcy, can balloon to several times their original size, after adding interest and collection fees.

To contact the reporter on this story: John Hechinger in Boston at

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