Consistent with its continued focus on student lending, the CFPB issued a new request for information regarding student loan servicing. The request for information seeks input from the public regarding all aspects of student loan servicing, including industry practices that may create repayment challenges or hurdles for distressed borrowers, and the economic incentives that may affect the quality of service. Director Cordray stated that the purpose of these requests is to help the CFPB and other policy makers address “pain points in student loan servicing that make repayment a more difficult and stressful process.”
The requests are divided into several general inquiries: general industry practices relating to repayment, including practices for distressed borrowers; the application of consumer protections in other markets, such as mortgage and credit card servicing; and the availability of data about student loan servicing and student loan repayment. Each section contains a series of specific questions. The requests indicate that they are not confidential supervisory information requests and responses are voluntary. Comments and responses are due on or before July 13, 2015.
This is not the CFPB’s first public request for information about student loan servicing. The CFPB first issued a public request for information in November 2011 (which we previously wrote about here and here). More recently, the CFPB requested information about loan modification options from student loan lenders and servicers.
In addition to issuing its request for information, the CFPB also announced that it re-launched its “Repay Student Debt” tool. This tool offers interactive guidance to assist borrowers in understanding repayment options. According to the CFPB’s announcement, the revised website provides sample instructions for borrowers to send to their student loan servicers and information regarding how to request lower monthly payments in times of financial distress.
Regrettably, three recurring themes seem to be implicit in the request, in Director Cordray’s comments, and in the re-launch of the tool. First, all student loan borrower complaints that reach the CFPB are inherently valid. Second, student loan borrowers who are not making payments are automatically entitled to relief from servicers and loan holders. And third, the problems in the economy that have made it difficult for some students to be fully employed should somehow be resolved by loan holders and servicers.