New York's Schneiderman and 19 other Attorneys General Fault Secretary DeVos for Undermining Student Loan Protections

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Schneiderman. Photo-Flickr

New York's Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman this week joined a coalition of 20 Attorneys General to demand that the U.S. Department of Education stop its systematic rollback of critical protections for student loan borrowers.

The letter follows a series of actions taken by Schneiderman to hold abusive higher education institutions accountable, end the delay of student loan forgiveness, and provide guidance to victims of for-profit college scams.

“Secretary DeVos and the Trump administration have repeatedly rolled back vital protections for borrowers, putting deceptive lenders above the very students the Department of Education is supposed to serve,” Schneiderman said. “Attorneys General have fought these destructive efforts every step of the way. I won’t allow New Yorkers to be victimized by the very system that’s meant to help them get ahead.”

The letter sent to Secretary Betsy DeVos charges the Department of Education with three main faults after the Department terminated two key memoranda of understanding it had with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB):

The Department of Education falsely asserted it has exclusive jurisdiction over companies that service federal student loans when, in fact, student loan servicers are under the jurisdiction of the CFPB, Federal Trade Commission, Department of Justice, Attorneys General, and other law enforcement agencies.

The August letter is the latest in a series of actions taken by the Department of Education to strip critical protections for millions of students and families repaying student loans.

The Department of Education misrepresents and undermines the strong work done by the CFPB on behalf of students and families across the country.

As the Attorneys General detail: “Contrary to the Department’s assertion, Congress did not exempt the $1.3 trillion federal student loan market from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s jurisdiction – or from the jurisdiction of any other law enforcement agencies. … Not only is the Department’s assertion demonstrably false, but such an exemption would make no sense – the market for federal student loan servicers is bigger than any other consumer finance market except mortgages. Moreover, student loan borrowers, who in most cases cannot discharge their student loans through bankruptcy, are among the most vulnerable borrowers.”

The two terminated memoranda of understanding with the CFPB were critical protections designed to streamline the supervision of student loan servicers. In response, the Attorneys General make clear that this step harms American families and makes it more difficult for the CFPB to assist and protect student borrowers.

Additionally, the Attorneys General highlight the strong work the CFPB has done to protect students and families – often in partnership with the Department of Education and state Attorneys General. These accomplishments include:

-Processing complaints from more than 40,000 student loan borrowers from all 50 states.

-With assistance from Washington State and Illinois, suing Navient, the nation’s largest student loan servicer, for steering borrowers into costly repayment plans that benefit the servicer, not the borrower.

-Cracking down on abusive for-profit colleges ITT Tech and Corinthian Colleges Inc.
   

-Halting illegal loan servicing practices at Wells Fargo, and - working with state Attorneys General to create an online tool that helps students plan for college by comparing financial aid offers, loan commitments and earnings potential.

The letter was organized by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, and signed by the Attorneys General of California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington, as well as the executive director of the Hawaii Office of Consumer Protection.

 

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