Update: Office of the Ombudsman

Debra Wiley, Ombudsman

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Agenda
s What is an Ombudsman? s What is the Office of the Ombudsman? s What is the Ombudsman case management process? s What have we learned? s What is in the future? s What do you think?

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What is an Ombudsman?

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An Ombudsman?
s Depends on who you ask s Told by Congress s Asked students, partners, and SFA staff what they expected s Asked ombudsman offices in public and private sectors

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What is the Office of the Ombudsman?

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Office of the Ombudsman
s Established by 1998 Amendments s Is an impartial, confidential resource after other avenues exhausted to resolve borrower concerns s Reports directly to Greg Woods, Chief Operating Officer, SFA

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Office of the Ombudsman
s Seeks to work cooperatively with partners to reach informal resolution of complaints s Does not force solutions, reverse decisions, or mandate actions s Analyzes complaints and makes recommendations for improvements s Reports annually to Chief Operating Officer on activities and effectiveness

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What is the ombudsman case management process?

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Ombudsman Case Management

Reanalyze Initial Intake Case Analysis

Contacts

Problem Solving

Closure

Create Options

General Assistance Cases Need information or need guidance on resolution through other channels

Problem Assistance Cases Are more complex and require extensive consideration

What have we learned?

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Customers Ask the Ombudsman to Help Them...
s Resolve discrepancies in loan balances and payments s Understand interest and collection charges s Understand financial aid requirements s Find loan holders s Rehabilitate loans by establishing satisfactory repayment plans s Reestablish eligibility for Federal aid s Find promissory notes s Defer or discharge loans s Resolve issues related to income tax refund offsets, default status, consolidations, bankruptcies, service quality and any other customer concern

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Case Characteristics
sInformation from the Ombudsman Case Tracking System sFor period of September 30, 1999, through February 2000 sOver 1700 cases

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Case Type Distribution

General Assistance 70%

Problem Assistance 30%

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Problem Assistance General Assistance

s Activities include phone calls, letters, faxes, and e-mails with customers and relevant third parties.

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Customer-Reported Issues
s Two major information concerns:
vAccuracy (especially problem assistance cases) vNeed for information

s Defaults - only one-third of problem and general assistance cases s Service quality s Tax refund offset issues - sharp increase in March 2000

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Case Characteristics

sMatch of the same 1700+ cases with the data in NSLDS sMatch conducted early in March 2000

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s Confirms customer-report data that only one-third of customers are concerned with defaults

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Customer Characteristics
s Average age 37 s Majority 25-50 years of age s Average time in repayment 6 years

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What is in the future?

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Our Expectations
s Increase in inquiries s Learning to anticipate issues s Installation of new case tracking system s First annual report in October/November 2000

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What do you think?

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Tell Us
s Your experiences with us s Additional opportunities to work together s Information that you want to see in our annual report s Anything else that you think we need to hear

Debra Wiley debra_wiley@ed.gov 1-202-401-4498

Thank you!
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Appendix: Requirements for Notifying Borrowers

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Regulatory Requirements
s Apply to schools, lenders, and guaranty agencies under three Title IV student loan programs (Perkins, DL, FFEL) s Required to provide borrowers with information on the availability of the Office of the Ombudsman s Are effective July 1, 2000, for any applicable activity occurring on or after July 1, 2000 s See “Dear Partner” letter, GEN-00-4(MAR)

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Information Required to Provide Borrowers
s Internet: http://ombudsman.ed.gov or http://sfahelp.ed.gov s Toll Free Telephone: 1-877-557-2575 s Mail: Office of the Ombudsman
Student Financial Assistance U.S. Department of Education Rm. 3012, ROB #3 7th and D Streets, SW Washington, DC 20202-5144

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