Last night, the Washington Post reported on GOP gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie’s extensive lobbying for student loan servicers and the questions that work raises regarding his commitment to college affordability. Gillespie and his lobbying firm were paid approximately three quarters of a million dollars to lobby on behalf of companies like NelNet and Bank of America who were seeking continued profits off of students’ college loans.
Unlike Democratic candidate Ralph Northam, Gillespie has refused to take a position on establishing a Virginia Borrowers Bill of Rights and requiring student loan servicers operating in Virginia to register with the Bureau of Financial Institutions. Numerous other financial services providers, including banks, credit unions, mortgage lenders, and even predatory lenders are required to submit to BFI oversight.
Gillespie’s silence on the Borrowers Bill of Rights is particularly surprising considering amajority of the GOP members of the Virginia state Senate voted for the proposal, including Gillespie’s own ticket mate: Jill Vogel.
“Over one million Virginians are drowning in over $30 billion in student loan debt,” said Progress Virginia executive director Anna Scholl. “We deserve serious solutions to tackle the student debt crisis, not career politicians who quite literally profited off of the student loan industry.”
By: Danielle Douglas-Gabriel
Ed Gillespie vows that if he’s elected governor of Virginia, he will make lowering the high cost of college a priority. But for years, the lobbying firm he ran, Quinn Gillespie & Associates, fought to do the exact opposite.
At a turning point for the student loan industry a decade ago, the firm pressed Congress to kill legislation aimed at lowering the cost of college. The bill aimed to take millions of dollars in subsidies that had been given to private lenders and instead use that money for grants for low-income college students and to lower education loan interest rates. Quinn Gillespie clients from the loan industry— Nelnet, Bank of America and College Loan Corp. — were trying to protect the profits they earned from financing student loans on the government’s behalf.
Though the lobbying campaign proved unsuccessful — the legislation passed — Gillespie’s critics say it raises questions about his commitment to college affordability, a key part of his platform. They also worry that the Republican’s ties to Nelnet, which now manages a portion of the federal government’s $1.3 trillion student loan portfolio, could stymie efforts to have the state regulate the company and other student loan servicers.