Tomorrow marks one hundred fifty days since Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Kathy Kraninger committed to quickly filling the nation’s top student loan watchdog position—a role that has been vacant for almost a year. As student debt nears $1.6 trillion and predatory practices plague the market, the Student Borrower Protection Center (SBPC) and Americans for Financial Reform Education Fund (AFREF) are releasing a roundup of failures by the current CFPB Director to stand up for student loan borrowers.
Americans for Financial Reform wrote to the California State Assembly in support of AB 376, the Student Borrower Bill of Rights. AB 376 would make California the first state in the nation to create a comprehensive set of rights for people holding student debt, by requiring student loan companies to treat borrowers fairly and giving borrowers the right to hold these companies accountable when they fail to meet basic servicing standards.
Americans for Financial Reform Education Fund applauds the news that a court has rejected the for-profit college industry’s attempt to stop the 2016 Borrower Defense rule. Today, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia sided with students over Betsy Devos’s attempts to let abusive for profit schools rip them off with impunity.
“The Proposed Rule is a brazen attempt to dismantle more than 20 years of borrowers’ rights to a defense to repayment on their loans when schools break the law. This dismantling will do nothing more than unleash a new wave of waste, fraud and abuse. This country teaches people that education is a path to a better life. For far too many years, allowing Title IV funds to flow to institutions engaging in fraud has turned this dream into a nightmare for their students. If the Department continues down this path of dismantling the right to a borrower defense, its legacy will be condemning students to lives full of poverty, while allowing executives of predatory proprietary institutions to become wealthy at their expense.”
The ability for states to enact laws governing how servicers may interact with borrowers, and the ability of state Attorneys General to file lawsuits against servicers for consumer abuses, are crucial accountability mechanisms that must continue. That the Department would attempt in any way to prevent these state level efforts to defend borrowers simply shows that under Betsy DeVos, it is servicers before students.
The reauthorization of the Higher Education Act should be a real opportunity to help students; instead, the PROSPER Act makes their lives worse in nearly every aspect. It raises repayment costs for struggling borrowers, lets institutions that scam students off the hook, and narrows relief for defrauded students.
“Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-Va., the chair of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, introduced a bill last week that sells out students to corporate interests ready to get rich off taxpayer-backed education dollars. A bill reauthorizing the Higher Education Act should be a real opportunity to help students; this one just makes their lives worse by raising repayment costs for struggling borrowers, letting institutions that scam students off the hook, and narrowing relief for defrauded students.”
AFR joined 29 other individuals and organizations representing students, consumers, veterans, servicemembers, and civil rights to send a letter to Education Secretary DeVos raising concerns around the questionable sale of EDMC to the Dream Center Foundation.
“We believe protections for student and taxpayers should be strengthened, not scaled back. …Veterans, low-income students and students of color have been disproportionately harmed by predatory colleges. Last month, 16 organizations representing millions of military servicemembers, veterans, survivors, and military families voiced their strong support for these protections and urged Congress to fully uphold them.”
AFR’s Alexis Goldstein gave opening remarks at the launch of the AFT Report “Regulating Too-Big-to-Fail Education.” In her remarks, Goldstein outlined the parallels between the for-profit college crisis and the subprime mortgage crisis.