Student loan debt is a problem that plagues over 40 million Americans. It is currently estimated that more than $1.5 trillion is owed in student loan debt nationwide. With an outstanding balance this large, many are asking: how did this problem get so out of hand?
Former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Ombudsman and the current Executive Director of the Student Borrower Protection Center, Seth Frotman, recently gave an interview to Yahoo Finance where he provided his input on the situation. Since he was on the front lines when it came to government protection of student borrowers, Frotman believes that loan balances have gotten out of hand as a result of decades of predatory lending and weak government regulation over the student loan sector.
Frotman resigned from the CFPB in August 2018 in a letter where he accused the current administration of not protecting student borrowers from predatory lending and other similar practices. In his letter, Frotman accused the administration of not enforcing lending violations and protecting bad lenders in the process.
In the interview, Frotman gave some background as to how student loans have been handled in past decades. For the most part, student loans are issued by banks or federally-backed private lenders. Given the fact that someone asking for a student loan normally does not have an extensive credit history, it is important that these borrowers are protected when taking out money to attend college.
However, over time, the cost of going to college began to skyrocket. It is estimated that the average cost of tuition for a private non-profit four-year university is $35,830, which is twice what a college student would have paid two decades ago. As tuition costs went up, the loans students had to take on to pay for going to college also went up. The result of this increase attracted other less-than-reputable lenders who saw a huge money-making opportunity.
In Frotman’s words “no one was minding the store” when it came to student lending, as more and more companies joined the student lending game. Unfortunately, the 2008 recession caused even more problems. Congress ended up bailing out the banks’ student loan arms hundreds of billion dollars to ensure that students still had access to loans to attend college.
As a result, however, the government ended up owning a great deal of student loan debt. The government ended up entering contracts with banks and loan providers that serviced student loans, including Navient, Nelnet, Great Lakes and FedLoan. These contracts are expected to expire this summer, leaving many, including Frotman, to worry about what will happen next. The current Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, has mentioned that she would consider an exclusive contract to just one company to service billions of dollars of existing student loans, which has raised a lot of opposition. However, until a decision is made, it is expected that the existing contracts will be extended.
Lenders are required to follow a series of rules and regulations when it comes to providing student loans, but it was discovered recently by a government watchdog that the Department of Education was not holding loan providers accountable under these regulations. Some of these violations included misleading borrowers into putting their loans in forbearance, putting delinquent accounts into forbearance without borrower approval, and generally not holding servicers accountable.
The situation is expected to get even worse. It is estimated, as of February 2019, that 11.5 percent of student loans are at least 90 days delinquent or are in default. It is possible this number underestimates just how many borrowers are behind on their payments, including those in forbearance or loans that are deferred, which means the number of loans that are past-due could be even higher.
Click here to read more on this story.
For borrowers who are struggling with student loan debt, relief options are available. Many student loan borrowers are unaware that they have rights and repayment options available to them, such as postponement of loan payments, reduction of payments or even a complete discharge of the debt. There are ways to file for bankruptcy with student loan debt. It is important you contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.