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A new way to file financial aid complaints

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Maybe you’ve dealt with a misleading student debt relief company, been charged a fee by your student loan servicer that you thought was unfair, or felt pangs of annoyance while filling out the FAFSA.

Whether you have a minor gripe, a major grievance or something in between, you can now tell the Department of Education about your financial aid beefs online.

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As of July 1, you can submit complaints and report fraud through the department’s Federal Student Aid Feedback System. And feedback can be about more than federal student loans: You can raise concerns about your college or university, your lender or loan servicer, federal grant or work-study programs, or debt collectors. The department will direct your feedback to the relevant organization or company and make sure that it gets resolved.

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President Barack Obama pitched the idea for this complaint system back in March 2015 in his Student Aid Bill of Rights. At the time, the Department of Education collected feedback about federal student loans through a form on the Federal Student Aid Ombudsman Group page, but there wasn’t a single place to submit complaints about a range of financial aid issues.

Note: The new system isn’t a place to file complaints about private student loans. You can continue to do that through the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

How to file a federal financial aid complaint

1. Choose how you want to submit your complaint: anonymously; with your name, phone number and email address; or with your FSA ID. Use your FSA ID if you want to be able to check the status of your complaint.

2. Describe your situation and how you’d like the Department of Education to respond. You can opt to receive updates about the status of your complaint.

You’re free to raise issues about any part of your financial aid experience, from filling out the FAFSA or receiving your financial aid money to repaying your student loans or dealing with a defaulted loan.

You can also report suspicious activity through a separate process on the platform. This can include a school that misrepresents its graduation rate or other outcomes, any type of fraud, a stolen FSA ID or a misleading debt relief company.

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3. After you submit your complaint, you’ll receive a case number. Save it in case you want to follow up. If you opt to get updates from the Department of Education, you should hear back within 15 days and have the issue resolved within 60 days.

Teddy Nykiel is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email:teddy@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @teddynykiel.

This article first appeared at NerdWallet.


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