These days, more experts are starting to point out just how bad the student debt problem in the U.S. has become, and as a consequence, the federal watchdog agency tasked with helping consumers safeguard their finances wants to see what it can do for Americans carrying these often massive balances.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently issued a questionnaire that anyone can fill out, and is now accepting public comment on what Americans think should be done to address the significant problems these debt loads can cause for everyone from doctors and teachers to office workers, according to a report from the agency. Public comment is open through April 8, and Americans can submit suggestions about what can be done to make education financing more manageable in the future. The agency wants to hear from everyone from borrowers themselves to lenders, educators, parents and even business leaders.
“Thousands of people struggle to manage student debt. Many consumers want to make good on their obligations, but struggle to negotiate an affordable repayment plan with their lender,” the CFPB said. “We recently announced our effort to better understand ways to spur more affordable private student loan repayment options. We need your help making a plan that will work.”
Through the end of last year, some $8 billion worth of private student loans were in some stage of default, across more than 850,000 balances, the report said. The CFPB wants to hear from the people whose balances fall into this category in particular, because privately-issued student financing typically comes with far fewer repayment options than those from the federal government. For those who do have federal student loans, the CFPB also recently put together a tool that helps borrowers figure out the repayment options that will work best for them, including income-based choices that help them to better afford their repayments and stay current on their obligations.
Today, the average college student graduates not only with tens of thousands of dollars worth of education loans to pay off, but also other debt obligations, including those on credit cards and for auto loans. These can combine to significantly hinder the ability of a young adult to gain full financial independence even within a few years of their having left school, and may further lead to diminished credit scores that make new accounts less affordable.