On June 20, the Maine governor signed LD 995, which establishes a student loan bill of rights to license and regulate student loan servicers. Notably, supervised financial organizations, financial institution holding companies, mutual holding companies, and their wholly owned subsidiaries are exempt from the entire requirements of the bill; and licensed banks, credit unions, and their wholly owned subsidiaries, as well as certain Maine financial institutions, are exempt from the licensing requirements.

The bill requires that any student loan servicer who is not exempt from the provisions of the bill—defined as, “a person, wherever located, responsible for the servicing of a student education loan to a student loan borrower”—obtain a license from the Superintendent of Consumer Credit Protection within the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation. Licenses may be renewed for 24-month periods, and renewal applications must be filed on or before September 1 of the year in which the license expires (or will be subject to a late fee); if not renewed, a license will expire on September 30 of the odd-numbered year following its issuance. Student loan servicers under contract with the U.S. Department of Education will be automatically issued limited, irrevocable licenses.

The bill requires non-exempt student loan servicers, including licensed banks or credit unions and their wholly owned subsidiaries, to comply with certain requirements, including (i) responses to written inquires; (ii) application of payments; and (iii) repayment program evaluations. Additionally, the bill prohibits student loan servicers from, among other things, (i) engaging in unfair or deceptive practices; (ii) misapplying payments; (iii) failing to report payment histories to credit bureaus; and (iv) failing to respond within 15 days to borrower complaints submitted to the servicer by the student loan ombudsman. Violations of the bill are considered an unfair trade practice under the Maine Unfair Trade Practices Act. The bill gives the Superintendent the authority to conduct investigations and examinations and requires the Superintendent to adopt rules implementing the legislation. The law is effective January 1, 2020.    

 

This content originally appeared in Buckley’s Infobytes blog, a collection of news and alerts covering the financial services industry. To read more or have the Infobytes weekly newsletter delivered to your inbox, please visit infobytesblog.com.