Does the Dept of Education have to provide copies of the Promissory Notes? If not, how can I confirm the debt? What if they don’t have all the pages?
You’re entitled to copies of your student loan promissory notes. Still, the Department of Education isn’t the only place to get them. In fact, there are 6 ways to find information about your federal student loans.
How to get your federal student loan documents
The Department of Education has copies of all of your master promissory notes you signed so you could get your federal student loans. You can get a copy of your Master Promissory Notes by going to studentloans.gov and entering your FSA ID. Click on “Completed Master Promissory Notes” under the menu bar heading that says “My Loan Documents.” The completed Master Promissory Notes will appear, and you can download them directly.
If what you’re really looking for is a copy of your entire federal student loan file – not just the promissory note but also any other information the Department of Education has for you – take a look at the Freedom of Information Act.
The Freedom of Information Act allows you to get records and information from the Federal government so long as it doesn’t fall into one of the exemptions related to privacy or national security. Because your student loan information doesn’t fall into any of these exemptions, you should be fine.
At this point, you should be able to confirm the fact that the debt is yours through either StudentLoans.gov or using a Freedom of Information Act request. However, there are other ways of confirming the debt.
The third way would be to login to the National Student Loan Data System or NSLDS. NSLDS is the US Department of Education’s central database for student aid, and it lets you see everything about your federal loans and grants. It’s like a credit report for your federal student loans, and it should give you a pretty good sense of what’s outstanding.
The fourth way to get your loan information is by getting in touch with your school. Your school may be able to give you information on your cost of attendance and how charges were paid.
Your loan servicer, the company that sends you bills every month, may be able to provide you with documents about your federal student loans. The servicer’s job is to administer the loan so long as it’s not in default. The servicer would have information about the accounting of your loan, how charges were assessed, payments received, forbearances and deferments, and other account-related events.
If your loan is in default, call the Default Resolution Group of the Department of Education at 800-621-3115. Default resolution Group will tell you which servicer was handling your loans when they were in good standing.
Borrowers of defaulted loans may demand the loan information from the debt collector. You may not get it, but it’s a possibility.
What if the Department of Education doesn’t have a complete copy of the Promissory Note?
If you’re being sued by the government for an unpaid loan, you can demand copies of your documents during pre-trial discovery. If the government can’t produce the complete note, they’ll likely argue that you received the benefit of the loan funds un tuition was paid. If you can prove that you or somebody else paid the tuition and fees, that would defeat the Department of Education’s argument. Without such proof, however, this argument may not go far.
If the Department of Education hasn’t filed a lawsuit and they’re using an administrative collection remedy, you can demand an administrative hearing to request the loan information. As in litigation, you should be prepared to prove that you or somebody else paid the tuition and fees.
Avoid the temptation
It’s tempting to demand a copy of the promissory note, but refusing to pay the federal student loan is usually a bad idea in the absence of a valid concern.
There are administrative ways to get a federal student loan discharged if you’ve been the victim of identity theft or some other unauthorized action. If those requests are denied, then you might need to file a lawsuit against the Department of Education.