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Press Releases

State Council of Higher Education for Virginia Opens Office of the Qualified Education Loan Ombudsman

by Elizabeth Liverman | Jan 22, 2019

Newly created position of Student Loan Advocate will provide timely debt education and assistance to Virginia’s college students


Contact: Laura Osberger
lauraosberger@schev.edu
(804) 786-2323 (office) or (804) 387-5191 (mobile)

January 22, 2019

For immediate release

RICHMOND – Virginians experiencing problems with student loan debt or looking to learn more about how to use debt responsibly have a new ally. The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) has established the Office of the Qualified Education Loan Ombudsman, as directed by legislation passed during the 2018 General Assembly session. Scott Kemp will serve as the Student Loan Advocate in that office and will help borrowers understand their rights and responsibilities, investigate complaints and assist borrowers with repayments. 

The Governor and the General Assembly created the office to provide an advocate and resources for Virginians who are thinking about using student loans to help fund their higher education goals, or who already have loans and need help avoiding default or getting out of default. The Student Loan Advocate will serve as a liaison between the student loan borrower and student loan servicers, exploring repayment options and attempting to resolve complaints. 

While most states provide various types of online assistance to student loan borrowers, Virginia is one of only 11 states with a designated student loan ombudsman tasked with advocating on behalf of students struggling with loans. Maryland and Washington opened similar offices within the last six months. 

“The role of the student loan advocate,” said Lee Andes, SCHEV’s associate director of financial aid, “is to provide timely assistance to any Virginia borrower experiencing difficulties with his or her student loan. In addition, the advocate will establish and maintain a student loan borrower education course that will cover key loan terms, documentation requirements, monthly payment obligations, income-based repayment options, loan forgiveness and disclosure requirements.” That online course will be available by the end of 2019.

"Our goal is to make higher education more accessible and affordable, and part of doing that includes helping students and families after they have finished their postsecondary education," said Secretary of Education Atif Qarni. "We will strive to implement other policies and initiatives, such as this office, that will make real and positive differences for all Virginians."  

Kemp spent 10 years at Virginia’s Community Colleges (VCCS) in roles that included special assistant to the vice chancellor for workforce development, interim vice president for student success at Germanna Community College and director of college access and success at VCCS. He previously worked at the Virginia Department of Education as a career connections specialist, at Patrick Henry High School in Ashland as a career counselor and at Benedictine High School in Richmond as director of guidance. Kemp received a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Religious Studies from the University of Virginia; a master’s degree in general experimental psychology from Hollins College; a master’s degree in education with a concentration in counseling from The Catholic University of America and is a doctoral candidate in community college leadership from Old Dominion University.

For more information, please visit www.schev.edu/studentloan.  

Scott Kemp, Ombudsman

Photo: Scott Kemp, student loan advocate, Office of the Qualified Education Loan Ombudsman, State Council of Higher Education for Virginia

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The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia is the state’s coordinating agency for higher education. With The Virginia Plan for Higher Education, SCHEV is dedicated to making Virginia the best-educated state by 2030. For more on The Virginia Plan: schev.edu/index/statewide-strategic-plan.

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