Biden’s administration repeals Trump’s student loan oversight rule and paves the way for investigation
The Biden administration has repealed a Trump-era rule that consumer advocates argued would allow the Department of Education to undermine government law enforcement investigations against student loan service providers – one of a number of recent revisions that could pave the way for more robust investigations.
In a new letter from NBC News, a group of Democratic senators express their support for Education Secretary Miguel Cardona for the recent turnaround that tightens oversight of the student loan service industry, but they also believe the ministry needs to go further to ensure that the states have the full support of the federal government to hold credit companies accountable.
The policies of the Trump administration, published in the Federal Register in March 2018, “Interfered with the state regulators exercising their powers to protect consumers in their states,” the eight lawmakers, led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, wrote to Cardona.
The revised interpretation that took effect last month, “Not only is it legally sound, it will be of significant benefit to borrowers,” added the Senators. “The attorneys general have been at the forefront of overseeing student loan intermediaries for the past few years, uncovering widespread patterns of misleading and abusive behavior and making significant comparisons for borrowers in their states.”
A consumer protection agency Report in June reaffirmed that service providers “committed improper acts or practices related to providing incorrect monthly payment amounts to consumers after a credit transfer” and “regularly provided inaccurate information about eligibility” [Public Service Loan Forgiveness] or direct consolidation loans that result in fraudulent acts or practices. “
Federal statistics show that approximately 43 million borrowers hold $ 1.5 trillion in debt, with students of color being more likely to take on such debts and struggle disproportionately to repay them. Since President Joe Biden took office earlier this year, he has paid off nearly $ 10 billion in student loans. last for students Enrolled in for-profit college accused of wrongdoing and closed.
However, advocates of student debt relief, including many Democratic senators, have urged Biden to use his federal powers to do more.
The latest policy change spearheaded by Cardona is a sharp reversal of the agenda of former Education Minister Betsy DeVos, who has been accused of putting the for-profit higher education industry and student loan intermediaries before debtors for students.
Under DeVos, the Ministry of Education had argued that the federal government’s oversight had anticipated state regulations in overseeing the student loan industry, which, according to democratic lawmakers, had enabled the administration to essentially shield companies that service student loans.
The Student Loan Servicing Alliance, a trade group, had defended the Trump administration’s interpretation, saying it was “not just good law, it’s good policy.” In a statement on Wednesday, the group said student loan service providers are looking for “clear and firm guidelines” from the federal government and these companies “have and will implement those guidelines.”
“We need a single and consistent set of rules and expectations from the relevant and accountable agency, the Department of Education,” said Scott Buchanan, executive director of the group.
A group of Democratic attorneys general representing California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Washington, DC, sent one joint letter after Cardona this week in support of the latest policy change, but asked for clarification that “state laws regulating servicers are not anticipated” except in certain narrow circumstances.
Cardona said last month that “effective collaboration between the state and the federal government is the best way to ensure that student loan borrowers receive the best possible service.”
In their letter, the Democratic Senators asked him to make sure the message is clear that student borrowers are being protected.
“If service providers or other contractors take positions that obstruct state or state oversight, they should expect repercussions under their current contracts and on future assignments and renewals,” they wrote. “We urge you to incorporate responsibility for abusive and illegal consumer practices and for failure to cooperate with federal and state regulators into the day-to-day administration of the Student Loan Program.”