Navient Launches Digital Focused Lab to Improve the Student Loan System
Navient, the largest student loan servicing company, is aiming to improve customer experience with the launch of Navient Labs, which will test digital ideas and technology based on the feedback from surveys of student loan borrowers, focus groups, and usability testing.
In Wednesday’s press release announcing the new initiative, Navient said the ideas that come out of Navient Labs could help lawmakers come up with policy reforms that could improve the student loan system as it stands.
Navient Labs will aim to improve lending and borrowing decisions by providing more information about the full cost of financing a degree, simplifying and streamlining federal student loan repayment options, helping borrowers realize the value of getting their loans paid off sooner, and urging borrowers to connect more with their student loan servicers.
“We gathered extensive feedback from call listening and other research to develop a vision for what the future of student loan servicing could look like and we are excited to test these ideas for the future," said Navient CEO Jack Remondi. “2017 offers the opportunity to reimagine the student loan experience from origination to repayment.”
According to Remondi, every aspect of the student loan borrowing and repayment process needs innovation improvements and he hoping to work with policy makers to make the ideas that come out of the Navient Labs a reality.
Navient’s efforts to improve the student loan borrowing process comes at a time when it is facing heat from regulators over how it services those loans. In January, the CFPB charged the company with cheating borrowers out of billions of dollars by placing obstacles in place that prevented borrowers from paying back loans, resulting in higher interest rates and balances. Navient was charged with providing faulty information about paying back loans and processing payments incorrectly, among other things. What’s worse, when borrowers complained, Navient allegedly did nothing about it.
Navient has slammed the accusations, blaming the problems on a lack of communication between the Department of Education and the CFPB. Navient’s defenses seem to hold true, at least for a handful of customers, based on a recent poll of 507 of Navient’s customers done by the Student Loan Report. Of those polled, the majority of respondents have had no problems the practices the CFPB charged Navient with.
Take the CFPB’s allegation that Navient incorrectly applied student borrowers’ payments, for example. More than 70 percent said that they never had that issue. On the charge that Navient steered borrowers into forbearance programs, the survey found that 64.5 percent said that never happened in their experiences. When it comes to informing borrowers about critical deadlines regarding income-driven repayment plans, survey responders were mixed with 44 percent saying Navient informed them in an adequate time frame and 38.25 percent saying Navient did not.
Regardless of whether the CFPB’s allegations are true or not, it is encouraging to see that the student loan servicing giant is making strides to help borrowers.