CRL in the News
In that environment, states, beginning with Connecticut in 2015, started enacting legislation requiring servicers to abide by certain consumer protections. That effort has picked up over the past several months as borrower advocates grow increasingly concerned that Betsy DeVos’s Department of Education will do little to protect borrowers from mistreatment at the hands of servicers.
Ashley Harrington, counsel for the center, says DeVos and the department haven’t been advocates for students. "These Attorneys General are setting an example of what it means to stand up for struggling students," she says in a statement. "The premise of the Borrower Defense to Repayment Rule is simple – students defrauded by their schools should be able to have their loans discharged. Secretary DeVos has consistently sided with private interests, often at the expense of student borrowers across the country."
That change and Navient's lobbying against state licensing efforts are drawing concern from consumer advocacy groups, who point to federal scrutiny over Navient and President Donald Trump's administration's moves to change regulations protecting borrowers. "From our perspective, that's going to require more state oversight," said Whitney Barkley-Denney, from the Center for Responsible Lending. "One servicer creates a too-big-to-fail environment where it's a state-created monopoly for student loan servicing."
The National Consumer Law Center filed the request along with Public Citizen, the Center for Responsible Lending, the Consumer Federation of America, Public Knowledge, and Higher Ed, Not Debt. The F.C.C. declined to comment.
"The bill even specifically exempts payday and vehicle title lenders - notorious for springing devastating debt traps for their already vulnerable customers - from any regulation", added Yana Miles, senior legislative counsel for the Center for Responsible Lending.
Yana Miles, senior legislative counsel for the Center for Responsible Lending, said, “The bill even specifically exempts payday and car title lenders — notorious for springing devastating debt traps for their already vulnerable customers — from any regulation.” The bill passed the House (233-186) with only Republican support; all Democrats and Republican Rep. Walter Jones (NC) voted no. It is not expected to be taken up in the Senate, where it would need 60 votes to pass but does not have any Democratic support.
Seventeen states plus the District of Columbia either cap interest rates so low that lenders don’t set up shop there or bar the use of a vehicle title as a collateral for a loan, said Lisa Stifler, deputy director of state policy for the Center for Responsible Lending. The center is a North Carolina nonprofit that aims to protect low-income communities from predatory lending.
"The bill even specifically exempts payday and car title lenders — notorious for springing devastating debt traps for their already vulnerable customers — from any regulation," added Yana Miles, senior legislative counsel for the Center for Responsible Lending.
“The director of an agency would be moving with the political wind,” Miles said. “If there is a law on the books that already says if there are big problems with how someone handles an agency, there is process for removing them, why make it at-will? That just politicizes the agency.”
The U.S. House is expected to vote Thursday on the so-called Financial CHOICE Act, a bill that would eliminate consumer protections and destroy safeguards in place to avert financial crises like the one California just survived. The bill should be called the “Wrong Choice Act,” because it will turn back the clock to 2007, when toxic and manipulative financial products brought down the entire economy.