The Federal Student Aid Ombudsman of the Department of Education helps resolve disputes and solve other problems with federal student loans.
About the FSA Ombudsman
The Ombudsman’s office was created in 1998 and took its first cases in October of 1999. The office now receives an average of 300 calls per week.
What we do
An ombudsman resolves disputes from a neutral, independent viewpoint. The Federal Student Aid (FSA) Ombudsman will informally conduct impartial fact-finding about your complaints. We will recommend solutions, but we don't have the authority to reverse decisions. We will also work to bring about changes that will help prevent future problems for other student loan borrowers. This free service is provided by the US Department of Education.
The Ombudsman will research your problem and determine whether you have been treated fairly. If your student loan complaint is justified, we will work with you and the office, agency, or company involved in the problem. On your behalf, we will contact other offices within the U.S. Department of Education, your private lender, your loan guaranty agency, and the servicing agency or firm collecting your loan.
If your complaint is not justified, we will take the time to explain to you how we reached this conclusion.
What we don't do
The Ombudsman is not an advocate or someone who will automatically take your side in a complaint. We must consider all sides in an impartial and objective way. It's the Ombudsman's job to help develop fair solutions to complex and difficult problems.
Note that we don't have the authority to reverse decisions.
Financial aid information -- The FSA Ombudsman does not provide general customer services. For example, we don't handle requests and information about student aid or application forms. For general assistance, see the FSA Student Portal .
Loan payments - We don't pay loans, take in loan payments, process deferments, or mail out forms. For information about these services, contact your lender or loan collection agency directly. If you have a direct loan, see the Direct Loan Servicing Center or call 1-800-848-0979. If you don't know who your lender is, call 1-800-4-FED-AID or find out through the Loan Locator .
Grants or private loans -- We will not accept complaints about grants or private sources of student financial aid. We also won't accept complaints when the U.S. Department of Education has already begun formal or legal investigations.
The FSA Ombudsman will accept complaints only about Direct Loans, FFEL Loans, Guaranteed Student Loans, and Perkins Loans (collectively referred to as Title IV Loans and authorized under the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended). The U.S. Department of Education administers these loans.
When to contact us
It's best to think of the Ombudsman as a last resort. We will try to help when other approaches have failed. If you have a complaint, first calmly discuss it with the person, company, or office directly involved. If needed, ask to speak with someone higher up, such as a supervisor. In many cases, this action can resolve the problem or help you better understand the issue.
When you have made a reasonable effort to resolve your problem through normal processes and it still is not resolved, then contact the Ombudsman.
What you can expect from us
We will help you if we determine that your complaint is justified. Further, we will treat you courteously and with respect. We will keep you informed of our progress and will respond to you in a timely manner.
Where else to go for help
The U.S. Department of Education offers a number of toll-free telephone services (including 1-800-4-FED-AID) and informative web sites, such as Financial Aid for Students and the FSA Student Portal .
Meet the FSA Ombudsman
Debra Wiley serves as the Ombudsman for Federal Student Aid (FSA) at the U.S. Department of Education. Since the office opened on September 30, 1999, a highly skilled team of Ombudsman case specialists has joined Ms. Wiley to assist in resolving complaints from individuals who bring federal student aid disputes to the attention of the Ombudsman Office. Although the primary office location is Washington, D.C, case specialists also operate out of remote locations in Illinois, Iowa and Kansas. Additionally, a special team of Federal employees in the Chicago Service Center assists with cases brought to the Ombudsman Office.
Ms. Wiley and the ombudsman case specialists have decades of experience in federal student aid, conflict resolution, higher education policy and planning, and principles of ombudsman practice. Educational backgrounds range from fine arts to highly technical programs; from undergraduate to graduate and professional degrees.
The Ombudsman Office addresses individual complaints in coordination with institutions of higher education, lenders, guaranty agencies, loan servicing agencies and other participants in the federal student aid programs. Although the Ombudsman Office keeps a record of all complaints, inquiries are sometimes referred to groups outside the Ombudsman Office to better assist in getting a proper response for the specific situation. Further, the Ombudsman Office relies on the expertise of designated agency ombudsmen to facilitate individual problem resolution and identify trends that suggest how program or operational changes can prevent recurring problems.