If you borrowed federal student loans from NorthStar Education
Finance, you may get a small refund as part of a class action
settlement concerning NorthStar Education Finance's suspension of its
T.H.E. Repayment Bonus loan discount program.
As a non-profit education lender, NorthStar Education Finance had one of the best loan discount
programs, which provided a 1% interest rate reduction for
undergraduate students and 1.3% for graduate students for on-time
payment. Borrowers who were 60 or more days late lost the benefit but
could regain it when the account became current again. More than 95%
of borrowers received this benefit.
NorthStar Education Finance suspended its loan discounts for existing
borrowers in addition to new borrowers on February 18, 2008 because of
the credit crisis. Many other lenders suspended discount programs in
the aftermath of the credit crisis, but only for new borrowers.
NorthStar Education Finance had been fairly consistent in including
the statement "this amount is based on current financial market
conditions and portfolio performance and is therefore subject to
in connection with descriptions of the T.H.E. Repayment Bonus
on its web site and marketing materials. Still, many borrowers who
lost the discounts through no fault of their own felt as though they
had been subjected to bait and switch by the lender. On July 14, 2008,
Kabateck Brown Kellner LLP filed a class-action lawsuit against
NorthStar Education Finance, alleging breach of contract.
The $9.75 million class action settlement was approved by US District
Judge Donovan Frank on April 8, 2010. Borrowers who had a loan in
repayment and who were less than 60 days late on their loan payments
on February 18, 2008 will be eligible for the settlement. The
settlement will be paid to borrowers over a five-year period by
crediting their student loan accounts. The amount of the credit will
be based on each borrower's loan balance. Eligible borrowers will
receive $81 on average.
Mark Kantrowitz is a nationally-recognized expert on student financial aid, student loans, scholarships and paying for college.