The federal agency in charge of protecting consumers from misleading or predatory lending practices has recently been looking into the ways in which private student loan lenders extend credit to consumers.
As a result of the findings it has made with regard to private student loans, the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is now asking a number of organizations and officials, including state attorneys general, consumer advocacy groups, and colleges and universities, to look into and share data on these lines of credit, according to a report from Bloomberg News. As it has with numerous other types of consumer credit, the CFPB has been collecting information and complaints about private student loan lending, and recently published 2,000 such comments from indebted Americans on its website. Many of these borrowers are carrying more than $100,000 in balances on such accounts.
“[When reviewing these consumer comments, o]ne theme clearly rose to the top,” said Rohit Chopra, the CFPB’s student loan ombudsman, according to the news agency. “Many private student loan borrowers expressed confusion and frustration when paying back their loans, especially when trying to get on an affordable payment plan.”
This is often problematic because of the ways in which private student loans work when compared with those issued by the federal government, the report said. For instance, government loans come with fixed interest rates that borrowers can count on not changing, but there are more than 30 private lenders across the country, including major banks. These offer student financing that generally have variable rates attached, and these can often be as much as two times larger than the rate on federally-issued education loans.
The CFPB is believed to be preparing a large report on the state of private student lending at some point in July, but earlier in the year it estimated that nationwide education debt balances totaled more than $1 trillion, the report said. The report is mandated by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, which created the CFPB itself as well.
Studies have shown that the average college graduate is now leaving school with some $45,500 in student loan debts, as well as thousands of dollars in credit card balances spread across several accounts.
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