Last week, the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance (DOBI) announced that it was designating Raghu Kakumanu as the state’s Student Loan Ombudsman. The DOBI opted to fill the role internally, as Kakumanu currently leads the Office of Consumer Finance—the same unit through which student loan inquiries and complaints will be processed.

Kakumanu is the first person to occupy this role, which was created under New Jersey’s student loan servicer licensing law enacted last year.  Under this law (SB 1149, P.L. 2019, c. 200, codified at NJ Stat. §§ 17:16ZZ-1 et seq.), the Ombudsman’s duties include:

  • Receiving and reviewing complaints from student loan borrowers and compiling related data;
  • Assisting student loan borrowers in understanding their rights and responsibilities under the terms of student education loans;
  • Analyzing the development and implementation of federal, state, and local laws and regulations and recommending necessary changes; and
  • Submitting an annual report containing specified information to the Commissioner and Secretary of Higher Education

This is the latest step that the DOBI has taken recently to implement SB 1149. On September 1, the DOBI published a bulletin describing license application procedures for student loan servicers, and on September 15 it began accepting applications via NMLS. The law also calls for the DOBI to promulgate implementing regulations, though it has not as yet unveiled any proposed rules.