Code of the District of Columbia

§ 31–106.01. Student Loan Ombudsman.

(a) There is established within the Department the position of the Student Loan Ombudsman.

(b)(1) The Ombudsman shall be:

(A) Appointed by the Commissioner of the Department;

(B) A District resident within 180 days of appointment; and

(C) Experienced in consumer finance, including student loan servicing and debt collection.

(2) If a vacancy in the position of Ombudsman occurs as a consequence of removal, resignation, disability, death, or other reason, the Commissioner shall appoint an Ombudsman to fill the vacancy within 90 days of the occurrence of the vacancy.

(c) The Ombudsman, in consultation with the Commissioner, shall:

(1) Assist in the enforcement of the licensing provisions of § 31-106.02, including the referral of actions to the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia for the enforcement of an order of the Commissioner pursuant to § 31-106.02 or other authority of the Commissioner related to a licensee or a person required to have a license under this subchapter;

(2) Receive, review, and attempt to resolve any complaints from a student loan borrower, including attempts to resolve such complaints in collaboration with student loan servicers, and any other participants in student-loan lending, including those entities engaging student loan borrowers about existing student debt;

(3) Compile and analyze data on student loan borrower complaints;

(4) Develop and provide information to assist student loan borrowers in understanding their rights and responsibilities under the terms of the student loan borrower's student education loan;

(5) Monitor the actions that student loan servicers take to ensure that student loan borrowers are informed of their rights and responsibilities under the terms of the student loan borrower's student education loan in a transparent, accessible, and timely manner;

(6) Make recommendations to the Commissioner for resolving problems and concerns of student loan borrowers;

(7) Analyze and monitor the development and implementation of federal and local laws, regulations, and policies relating to student loan borrowers;

(8) Upon the request and written consent of a student loan borrower, review the student education loan history of the student loan borrower; provided, that the student loan borrower has provided documentation of the student loan borrower's student education loan history;

(9) By October 1, 2017, establish, publicize, and maintain an education course to assist student loan borrowers in understanding their student education loans, which shall include:

(A) Educational presentations;

(B) Explanations of key loan terms;

(C) Documentation requirements;

(D) Monthly payment obligations, including:

(i) Income-based repayment options;

(ii) Loan forgiveness; and

(iii) Disclosure requirements; and

(E) Other educational materials that the Commissioner considers necessary or appropriate;

(10) By October 1, 2017, develop a student loan borrower bill of rights;

(11) Conduct an examination of the activities of each student loan servicer at least once every 3 years, and as the Commissioner considers necessary;

(12) Charge each student loan servicer an examination fee, which shall be assessed in an amount set by the Mayor; and

(13) Take any other action required by the Commissioner.

(d) Beginning March 1, 2018, and by March 1 of each year thereafter, the Commissioner shall submit an annual report to the Mayor and the Council on the Ombudsman's activities, as required or authorized by this section, of the previous year, which shall include the number of educational presentations held across the city, the number of residents in attendance for the educational presentations, and the number of complaints received and the action taken to resolve the complaints.

(e) The Ombudsman shall not:

(1) Disclose personally identifiable information regarding a student loan borrower without the written consent of the student loan borrower;

(2) Disclose the identity of a person who brings a complaint or provides information to the Ombudsman without the person's consent, unless the Commissioner determines that disclosure is necessary to further the resolution of a complaint or an investigation;

(3) Provide legal advice or legal representation; or

(4) Be held personally liable for the good-faith performance of his or her responsibilities or duties under this section or rules issued pursuant to this section; except, that no immunity shall extend to criminal acts, or other acts that violate District or federal law.


(May 21, 1997, D.C. Law 11-268, § 7a; May 21, 1997, D.C. Law 11-268, § 7c; as added Feb. 18, 2017, D.C. Law 21-214, § 2(b), 63 DCR 15334.)