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The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau received more than 3,800 complaints in the last year from borrowers of private student loans, the bureau said in a report released Wednesday. 

Perhaps not surprisingly, given the continuing effects of the economic downturn, the largest number of complaints came from borrowers struggling to afford their monthly student loan obligations who encountered problems when they sought flexibility from their lender. 

But the CFPB also pointed to a range of problems with the companies that service student loans -- an area of the student loan market over which the bureau is seeking more authority.

Although federal law prohibits penalties for borrowers who want to pay down their educational loans ahead of schedule, many borrowers are facing obstacles when they try to do so, according to Rohit Chopra, the bureau's student loan ombudsman, who wrote the report.

For example, Chopra said, some loan servicers are applying advanced payments on loans in a way that maximizes profits for the lender but often leads to the borrower paying more interest. He said many borrowers also complained that loan servicers lost their payments or that borrowers incurred late fees because the servicers did not process their payments on time.

The CFPB has previously been critical of the private student loan market, which officials there have said contains problems and inefficiencies that are similar to those in the mortgage market during the 2008 credit crisis.

Earlier this year the bureau announced that it wanted to extend its oversight to companies with which lenders contract to collect payments from borrowers. The regulatory agency already supervises large banks and the loan servicing activities at those banks.

Chopra said in a call with reporters Wednesday that the agency expected to finalize the rule expanding the CFPB’s authority over non-bank student loan servicers by the end of this year. 

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