2022 Update: In 2021, the Department of Education announced that all federal loan delinquencies for the loans it controls would be managed by the Default Resolution Group (DRG) instead of by various collection agencies. Read my article on DRG for up-to-date details on how to contact DRG and what to do if your federal loan is moved to collections. The information in this article may no longer be accurate.
When you borrow federal student loans, the U.S. Department of Education is your lender. After you leave school, the Department pairs you with a company — loan servicer — to handle your payments, answer questions about your student loan debt, and make changes to your repayment plan. If you miss more than 270 days of payments, your loans default. And when that happens, your account is moved to a collection agency like Central Research, Inc.
If your defaulted student loans have been placed with Central Research, here's what you need to know about the debt collection agency.
What does Central Research, Inc. do?
Central Research is a private debt collector hired by the Department of Education to handle federal loans in default. Since 2015, the company has been awarded $233.7 million for its collection efforts. CRI's contract is set to expire September 2024.
Is Central Research legit? Central Research is a legitimate, non-scam, debt collection agency for the U.S. Department of Education. The company has had an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau since 2019.
What Can Central Research Help You With?
If Central Research is assigned your defaulted student loans, you can contact the company about the following repayment options for student debt:
- Settlement: is the only option to save collection fees and reduce some of the accrued interest. Many federal student loan settlements save the borrower about 10-15% of the current loan balance. But that doesn't stop you from offering half of the total amount as a settlement for the defaulted loans.
- Loan Consolidation: allows you to get out of default fast. You do not need good credit to qualify. Your credit score won't be checked in the application process. Instead, you're eligible to get a Direct Consolidation Loan if you're not under an active administrative wage garnishment and you have at least two loans to include in the application.
- Loan Rehabilitation Program: gets you out of default, qualifies you for new financial aid, and allows you to clear CAIVRS after making 9 payments in 10 months. This program also stops wage garnishment after you make your fifth payment. It also removes the default status from your credit report.
- Voluntary Repayment: does not get you out of default. Choose this option only if you're not eligible for consolidation or rehabilitation. Setting up monthly payments can stop your wages from being garnished and protect your tax refund from Treasury Offset.
Can you remove Central Research, Inc. from a credit report? A collection account can be removed from a credit report when the information is inaccurate. If CRI is contacting you about a defaulted federal student loan, sending a debt validation letter is typically a waste of time. Even if the company doesn't respond, you still owe the loan and the credit bureaus can keep reporting the negative information.
What Central Research Can't Help You With
Until you get your loans back into good standing, federal law prohibits you from being eligible for:
- income-driven repayment plans
- deferment and forbearance
- new financial aid
- student loan forgiveness programs
- FHA mortgage
How to Make Student Loan Payments With CRI
You can make payments in the following ways:
- Phone: Central Research customer representatives can take payments using a debit card. You can set up the payments by calling the company at its phone number, 844-804-8467.
- Mail: You can mail payments for Dept of Education Loans to National Payment Center, P.O. Box 790336, St Louis MO 63179-0336.
- Online: For Department of Education held loans, you can make payments at myeddebt.ed.gov.
To start making payments online, follow these three simple steps:
- Create an account on MyEdDebt. To sign up for an account, click on "Borrower/Student" and "Create Account". The site will prompt you to enter your Social Security Number, Date of Birth, email, etc.
- Add a U.S.-based debit card. Once your account has been activated, you can make a one-time payment. The system doesn't accept credit cards or cards from foreign banks.
How to Stop a Student Loan Wage Garnishment From Central Research?
Federal law allows Central Research to garnish wages without a court order to collect defaulted federal student loans.
- Gather documents: before you call, get a copy of your two most recent pay stubs and most recent federal tax return. You'll likely need that financial information if you establish a payment agreement.
- Speak with a representative: ask for your account number, how many loans you have in default, what's your total balance, and any other additional information the company has about your loans.
- Learn your options: ask the representative what your options are to stop the wage garnishment. Before it starts, you may be able to negotiate a settlement, apply for loan consolidation, or enter into the loan rehabilitation program. After the garnishment starts, your options are limited to settlement and loan rehabilitation.
- Submit required documentation: if you chose loan consolidation, submit the consolidation paperwork to your loan servicer. If you chose the loan rehabilitation program, you'd need to submit and do three things: (a) the Loan Rehabilitation Income and Expense Form and proof of income; (b) schedule 9 monthly payments; and (c) sign and return the Loan Rehabilitation Agreement Letter. You can also find the forms here.
- Confirm receipt: after you submit documents and make any necessary payments, call Central Research. Ask the representative if the company's received the documents, payment and if you've completed all the required steps.
About Central Research, Inc.
Central Research was founded in 2002 and is registered in Arkansas. The company has offices in Arkansas and Washington D.C. Its main office is at 122 N. Bloomington, Suite I, Lowell, AR 72745.
Contact Information for Central Research
Student loan borrowers can contact CRI customer service representatives by phone by calling 844-804-8467. The call center is open Monday through Friday from 8 am to 5 pm CST and Friday.
You can send general correspondence to its mailing address: Central Research, Inc. P.O. Box 1460 Lowell, AR 72745-1460.
How to Complain About Central Research
If you're having difficulty with Central Research that you've been unable to resolve, start by filing a complaint directly with the Default Resolution Group. It oversees the collection process. Call 800-621-3115.
Another option is to file a complaint with the Federal Student Aid Feedback Center.
You can also file a complaint with the Department of Education's highest customer service office, the FSA Ombudsman. Call 877-557-2575.
If your issue goes unresolved, you can also make complaints about AFS to:
- the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)
- the Better Business Bureau (BBB)
- your congressional representative
- your state attorney general's office
Lastly, because Central Research, Inc. is a debt collector, the company must adhere to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and other consumer rights laws (e.g., no harassing phone calls, no use of obscene language, or communicating false information, or use of relentless robocalls, etc.). Contact an FDCPA attorney near you to learn if you can take legal action.
Need help with Central Research? Let's talk
If you want to go over your options, schedule a free 10-minute phone call with me. I've got years of experience helping people like you with their student loans.
Let's talk. I can help you find a way to get out of default while saving the most money and preserving your eligibility for loan forgiveness.