AFT Resolution

CONDEMNING THE ACTIONS OF STUDENT LOAN SERVICER NAVIENT

WHEREAS, Navient is currently being sued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the state attorneys general of Illinois, Pennsylvania and Washington for:

  • Steering struggling borrowers toward paying more than they have to on loans by directing them into forbearance, resulting in those borrowers amassing an additional $4 billion in unpaid interest on their loans;
  • Failing to correctly apply and/or allocate borrower payments to their accounts;
  • Obscuring information student loan borrowers need to remain in income-driven repayment plans and keep their monthly payments low;
  • Deceiving private student loan borrowers about requirements to release their co-signers from their loans; and
  • Harming the credit of disabled borrowers, including severely injured veterans; and

WHEREAS, Navient stated in a Jan. 18, 2017, court filing in response to the CFPB’s complaint, “There is no expectation that the servicer will act in the interest of the consumer”; and

WHEREAS, Navient reached a $173 million settlement in 2014 with the Department of Justice and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. for allegations that Navient overcharged more than 78,000 active-duty service members on their interest rates, as well as other borrowers who were being charged late fees; and

WHEREAS, 44 million Americans collectively owe more than $1.5 trillion on their student loans; and

WHEREAS, wages for the typical recent college graduate working full-time have risen just 1 percent over the last 25 years, after adjusting for inflation, while student debt burdens for the typical bachelor’s degree recipient who borrowed for college have increased about 163.8 percent; and

WHEREAS, in 1990, the typical college student graduated with debt equivalent to 28.6 percent of his or her annual earnings and, by 2015, that number had shot up to 74.3 percent; and

WHEREAS, student debt has increased from 13 percent to 37 percent of personal debt over the past decade, during a period of economic growth; and

WHEREAS, rising debt levels mean consumers are spending more of their income on debt payments rather than contributing to their local and state economies; and

WHEREAS, economic analysts have expressed concern that the rising levels of debt may pose a “systemic” risk to the economy, and economic downturns, among other factors, affect the performance of pension funds, upon which many AFT members rely for a key element of their retirement security; and

WHEREAS, nearly all of the AFT’s members—whether teachers and school staff, nurses, health professionals, early childhood educators, public employees, or college and university faculty and staff, including graduate employees—finance their professional education by taking out student loans; and

WHEREAS, CFPB Acting Director Mick Mulvaney has shuttered the bureau’s Office of Students and Young Consumers, substantially reducing the agency’s ability to regulate student loan servicers and act in the interest of student loan borrowers; and

WHEREAS, given President Donald Trump and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ actions to weaken the mandate of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and states to advocate for borrowers and protect them from predatory lending practices of student loan servicers like Navient, strong corporate governance oversight by shareholders is now more important than ever; and

WHEREAS, it is in the best interest of our members, their families and communities, borrowers, and our pension funds to hold Navient and other corporations that profit from the debt crisis accountable:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers, and our state and local affiliates, will advocate for federal and state regulators to launch an industrywide investigation and sue companies that break the law, and to ensure Navient and other servicers are held fully accountable and avoid settlements that allow companies to operate business as usual; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT condemns CFPB Acting Director Mick Mulvaney’s decision to shutter the CFPB Office of Students and Young Consumers and calls for the immediate reversal of this action; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT calls for Navient executive leadership to be held responsible for the actions of the corporation and calls for regulators to pursue individual criminal charges against Navient executives, including against Navient CEO Jack Remondi, if Navient is found to have systematically and illegally failed borrowers; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT, in partnership with our state and local affiliates, will use student debt clinics to educate members about income-driven repayment plans and public service loan forgiveness–programs that Navient has failed to notify student loan borrowers about–and about how to file complaints against their student loan servicer(s) when their rights are violated; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT pension trustee council will work within their roles as fiduciaries and investors to determine the risk posed to our pension funds by Navient and other corporations and asset managers involved in predatory finance practices, and to raise concerns as investors and shareholders when appropriate; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will develop model state legislation and standards for affiliates interested in advocating for state regulators and state lawmakers to provide oversight of Navient and other student loan servicers, and in developing enforceable nationwide servicing standards that protect borrowers against further abuse; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will encourage all departments of the federal government to immediately cancel existing contracts with Navient and its subsidiaries, and to insource this work wherever possible; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT, and our state and local affiliates, will encourage states, counties and municipalities to cancel their contracts with Navient and its subsidiaries if the company continues to seek special protections from Congress to shield it from oversight by state law enforcement and regulators; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will actively support Navient employees’ whistleblowing on any illegal or unethical practices Navient engages in by developing a website where they can anonymously submit their testimonies, and we call on Navient to refrain from retaliation, reprisal or harassment of any employees who engage in whistleblowing or workplace organizing; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT demands Congress investigate Secretary DeVos’ ties to Navient, which may have influenced her decision to eliminate protections for student loan borrowers; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT calls on Congress to recover Federal Family Education Loans privately held by Navient, which are currently receiving substandard servicing, and assign them to new student loan servicers; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will lead a national campaign to raise the issue of the nation’s debt crisis, exposing the role of Wall Street in fueling and profiting from the crisis at the expense of working people, retirees, pension funds and the nation’s economy; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT condemns the predatory actions of student loan servicer Navient, and those of other loan servicers and consumer lenders whose predatory practices put families, communities, pension funds and the economy at risk.

(2018)

Please note that a newer resolution, or portion of a resolution, may have superseded an earlier resolution on the same subject. As a result, with the exception of resolutions adopted at our most recent AFT convention, resolutions do not necessarily reflect current AFT policies.