Our History

Our Roots

In January 1988, at the time when student loan defaults were first becoming an issue, Mary Lyn Hammer was hired by a school as the nation’s first full-time Default Manager. Ms. Hammer came from a banking background where the primary goal of servicing was to keep borrowers current and prevent foreclosures and repossessions. She quickly realized that the only way to complete proper student loan servicing was to intervene and act as a liaison between the borrowers and their servicers.

Ms. Hammer was appalled to find that fraud and abuse were rampant in the student loan industry. Systematically, she identified the problems in the student loan industry, and she developed procedures to implement to curtail these problems. The CHAMPION program today is based on the essential, proven-successful “Hands-On” techniques that Ms. Hammer developed to prevent student loan defaults.

The results at that first school were phenomenal. The default rate dropped from 34% at program inception to 16% within the first year and to less than 10% within two years.

Mary Lyn Hammer c 1988
Mary Lyn Hammer c 1988

Student Loan Servicing Legislation

Inspired by what Ms. Hammer had uncovered in her work as Default Manager, in 1989, she took action and worked closely with top officials at the Department of Education to improve and regulate student loan servicing.

Her borrower education and servicing program was used by the Department to write “Appendix D,” the regulatory criteria for schools’ default prevention programs from 1989 until 1996. Today, much of the same language exists in “Subpart M” and “Subpart N” of the Cohort Default Rate regulations that Ms. Hammer also helped craft in several Negotiated Rulemaking processes.

In 1990, the Department of Education recognized the success of the program in Reducing Student Loan Defaults: A Plan for Action.

Mary Lyn Hammer in the Rayburn House Office Building
Ms. Hammer; Rayburn House Office Building

Founded to Fulfill Requests from Schools in Need

Numerous requests from schools needing assistance led Ms. Hammer to form Hands On Default Management, Inc. in January 1990. For the first five years, the initial program included software and training at the school level. For many schools, this solution worked well, and these schools are still enjoying success. Others wanted to concentrate on education and requested that Hands-On form a third-party servicing branch.

During the fall of 1994, Ms. Hammer began a full-service operation known as Hands On, Inc. This ultimate combination of in-school software with full servicing by a professional, highly trained staff resulted in phenomenal results for client schools.

Continued Expansion of Default Prevention Services

During 2004, the company emerged with a new name, Champion College Services (Champion), that better represented expanded offerings. Based on extensive research and development, Champion is proud to offer the following options to our clients:

    • Full-service Default Prevention for Federal and Private Student Loans
    • Financial Literacy Resources at DefaultIsLame.com and ChampionEmpowerment.com
    • SaaS for In-House Default Prevention

The Champion College Services name better represents the objectives and goals, our portfolio of offerings, and the relationships between Champion and the clients we serve.  Many schools have experienced dramatic results by implementing Champion programs. Our professional strategic partnerships together with our vision will propel us to continually improve our offerings and our relationships in the higher education arena.

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