I attended the annual National Consumer Law convention earlier this month in Tampa. It was a great opportunity for a bunch of consumer rights attorneys to get together and chat about consumer issues. Student loans were a huge topic at the convention.
One of the head leaders of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) attended and spoke at the convention. The CFPB is the relatively new federal watchdog agency tasked with overseeing private and federal student loan servicers. The bottom line is this: the CFPB wants to hear from you.
The CFPB recently set up an online complaint system to start gathering data on student loan servicing problems and to help resolve disputes. Why? Because for real reform to happen, the government needs data. Real, concrete data. What types of problems are borrowers encountering with their student loan servicers? What are the most common issues and disputes? Are there specific problems that are occurring more frequently with a particular type of loan (i.e., private or federal), or with a particular loan servicing company, more than others?
Will filing a complaint with the CFPB fix your student loan problem? Actually, it could. The CFPB does have some enforcement and mediation power under certain circumstances and they may be able to help, particularly with private student loan issues. But filing a complaint will also allow the CFPB to document the problem and gather information. And this type of data gathering is critical in advocating for major systematic reform.
So if you have experienced a problem with student loan servicing (and let’s be honest… you probably have…), please tell the CFPB.