By Gideon Weissman, U.S. PIRG
More than 44 million Americans have student loan debt, in total owing more than $1.4 trillion. Finding the right student loan and deciding on the right payment plan can be complicated. Many borrowers also have trouble paying – more than 10 percent of student loans are at least 90 days delinquent.
Fortunately, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) – America’s first federal agency dedicated to protecting Americans in the financial marketplace – has resources to help.
- Information for student borrowers. The CFPB provides extensive information to help students pick the loan that is best for them, and to understand their options when having trouble making loan payments. The CFPB’s “Paying for College” website allows prospective borrowers to compare different types of federal and private loans, provides an “action guide” to find out eligibility for federal loans, and has a special section of advice on how to repay debt.
- Having problems? File a complaint. The CFPB allows all consumers to file complaints about problems with financial companies, after which the Office of Consumer Response will work with the consumer and company to resolve the issue. To date, the CFPB has handled more than 44,000 student loan complaints, not only helping consumers find answers, but also helping the CFPB gain understanding of issues in the marketplace. (We analyzed some of these complaints in our report Private Loans, Public Complaints.)
- Advocacy for a fairer marketplace. In addition to providing resources, the CFPB is actively working for a fairer marketplace. In 2015, the CFPB and the Department of Education released a joint statement outlining principles for creating a fairer and more transparent student loan servicing industry.[pdf]
- Enforcement against wrongdoers. When student lenders break the law, the CFPB is there to help. In January, 2017, the CFPB sued Navient – the nation’s largest servicer of student debt – for “systematically and illegally failing borrowers at every stage of repayment.” In its lawsuit, the CFPB is seeking to obtain relief for borrowers harmed by illegal servicing failures.
In addition to student loans, the CFPB can help students navigate all other parts of the financial marketplace, including student banking. For more information, visit www.consumerfinance.gov/students.