Why Alex Drove 186.5 Miles to Protest Navient

My friend Alex has student loans, like a lot of us. After months of repayment, a new loan mysteriously appeared on her bill and her monthly payments shot up. So she called her student loan servicer, a company called Navient that contracts with the federal government to collect payments on student loans and help borrowers navigate their repayment options. But for Alex, and a lot of borrowers, Navient did the opposite of “help.” When Alex called to find out why her payments had gone up and a mysterious new loan had appeared on her bill, she got the runaround, snarky remarks, and no answers.

Alex’s story isn’t unique. It’s why Navient is currently being sued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for “systematically and illegally failing borrowers at every stage of repayment.” It’s why three other states have since announced their own lawsuits. And it’s why Progress Virginia has led the charge for the last three years to pass legislation in the Commonwealth to protect student loan borrowers.

That legislation, a Borrowers’ Bill of Rights, was close to passing until Navient showed up in Richmond this winter to kill the bill. Even though our bill passed the state Senate unanimously, a handful of conservative Delegates agreed with Navient’s ridiculous claims that a requirement that they actually give borrowers information about their loans when they ask was just too burdensome.

Navient has been fighting state efforts to protect student loan borrowers all across the country, trying to stymie similar Borrowers’ Bills of Rights in Maryland, California, New York, and Illinois.

So when we found out that Navient was set to receive a $204M tax break under the TrumpTax scam, we were rightly enraged. Even worse? Navient isn’t using that windfall to provide better services to borrowers and help them stay current on their loans. Instead, they’re handing the money back to their shareholders, ensuring a wealthy few continue to profit off of business practices that screw over student loan borrowers.

On Tax Day, we joined Alex, our colleagues at Generation Progress, and local activists to protest at Navient’s Reston, VA headquarters. We’ve had enough of Navient’s shoddy business practices and enough of trickle down tax schemes that hand out tax breaks to the rich instead of the student loan borrowers who are struggling for financial security.

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You can check out video and photos from the protest and then join us in taking the pledge to be a student loan voter.