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Navient Settles Predatory Student Loan Claims; Massachusetts Borrowers To Get More Than $41 Million In Relief

BOSTON (CBS/AP) -- Navient, a large student loan servicer, has settled allegations of predatory lending practices for $1.85 billion. The settlement includes $1.7 billion in debt cancellation and $95 million in restitution.

The settlement involves 39 state attorneys general, including Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, and resolves claims that Navient led student borrowers into long-term forbearances instead of giving them advice on less costly repayment plans.

"They should never have been putting borrowers into loans that they knew these borrowers couldn't afford," Healey said. "Much of this debt could've been avoided had Navient taken the time to advise federal loan borrowers on repayment options."

Healey also said that Navient, formally known as Sallie Mae, originated loans that were allegedly deceptive and "doomed to fail," resulting in "lifetimes of crushing student loan debt."

Massachusetts is getting more than $6 million from the settlement, including $2.2 million in restitution for over 8,300 federal loan borrowers, as well as $41 million in private loan debt relief for 1,523 borrowers, according to Healey.

Navient said it did not act illegally, and it did not admit any fault in the settlement.

"The company's decision to resolve these matters, which were based on unfounded claims, allows us to avoid the additional burden, expense, time and distraction to prevail in court," Mark Heleen, Navient's chief legal officer said.

Healey said that eligible borrowers don't need to do anything to claim their part of the settlement - payments will be sent out in the mail.

"It really has taken a great toll on my life. I just want to cry happy tears right now because I can finally move on with my life," one woman told WBZ-TV.

"This is a step forward in racial equality when you think about the percentage of African-Americans in debt in this country," added another woman.

(© Copyright 2022 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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