Incidents underscore how Republicans failed Virginians in rejecting the Borrowers’ Bill of Rights
Richmond, VA – As Virginians mark the 5th anniversary of total student debt exceeding $1 trillion, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced this week that Virginia student loan related complaints to the agency jumped a shocking 240%.
The massive spike in consumer complaints underscores how Education Secretary Betsy Devos put Virginia student loan borrowers at risk by revoking Obama Administration borrower protections. Over one million Americans default on their student loans annually, due in large part to predatory practices by large corporations that damage graduates’ financial futures.
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring stood up for Virginia borrowers earlier this week, joining Attorneys General from 21 states to protest Secretary DeVos’s revocation of federal student loan borrower protections. Speaking to the letter, Herring told the Washington Post, “These critical reforms had been put in place to protect our students and their families, and it’s downright irresponsible for the Department of Education to roll them back.”
Republicans in the Virginia House of Delegates rejected legislation earlier this year to protect Virginia student loan borrowers, defeating the Borrowers’ Bill of Rights proposed by Governor McAuliffe, State Senator Janet Howell and Delegate Marcus Simon. Legislators insisted Virginians should turn to the federal government for help with their student loans.
“Republicans in Richmond hung Virginia student borrowers out to dry, rejecting a basic Borrowers’ Bill of Rights even as student loan servicing complaints spiked to record levels,” said Progress Virginia executive director Anna Scholl. “Meanwhile, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos rolled back protections for over 1 million Virginia borrowers, leaving them more vulnerable than ever. Republicans in the legislature should be following in Attorney General Mark Herring’s footsteps to help support student loan borrowers who have worked hard and are playing by the rules rather than letting unscrupulous corporations prey on Virginians’ financial futures.”
At $1.4 trillion, student loan debt represents the U.S.’s second largest debt market behind mortgages. More than 44 million student loan borrowers rely on the companies servicing their loans to manage all aspects of repayment, including providing borrowers with available repayment options when they are struggling to repay their loans. The CFPB, charged with looking out for American consumers, operates a complaint line for individuals who encounter issues with their loan servicer. In January, the CFPB filed suit against Navient, the largest servicer of student loans, alleging they had “systematically and illegally [failed] borrowers at every stage of repayment.” Borrowers who encounter questions or concerns with their loan or servicer can file a complaint with the CFPB at www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint or by calling (855) 411-2372.