My payment wasn't applied to the account
Lenders, loan guarantors and collection agencies make mistakes, too -- sometimes big ones that can result in harsh penalties for the borrower. If you think those holding your loan have made a mistake, try to address it with them first, says Isaac Bowers, senior program manager of educational debt relief and outreach for the nonprofit public interest law group, Equal Justice Works. If the problem can't be remedied, file a loan dispute with a student loan ombudsman.
"(Ombudsmen) are a neutral and confidential third party who will work with the graduate or the student who has the problem, ... gather information from the other party, usually a servicer that they're having trouble with, then try to work out a compromise between those parties if there is a dispute," he says, adding that ombudsmen are not advocates for the borrower.
Federal loan borrowers can seek help through the Department of Education at Ombudsman.ed.gov, while those with private loans can get help through the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
To help move your case along, Bowers recommends gathering documentation such as promissory notes, canceled checks and bills before filing your dispute.