Our Support for the Student Borrower’s Bill of Rights in Massachusetts
On April 11, 2018, the Massachusetts Senate is set to bring up the proposal to establish a Student Loan Bill of Rights for its residents. This effort is meant ensure that student loan borrowers are protected from practices by student loan servicing companies during the repayment process that can lead to deeper debt.
At a time when for-profit loan servicers are seeing their interests being protected by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Congress – above that of the interests of individual consumers and student loan borrowers – a Student Loan Bill of Rights at the state-level is absolutely necessary. Many states, including Massachusetts, have seen the need to protect their residents’ consumer rights and appropriately license and oversee the loan companies operating in their states.
Higher Ed, Not Debt has submitted its own letter of support for the Massachusetts Student Loan Bill of Rights (featured below), and we are urging student and consumer advocates to submit their own letters as well.
Honorable Members of the Massachusetts Senate
State House, Room 33
Boston, MA 02133
April 10, 2018
Dear Members of the Massachusetts Senate:
We at Generation Progress – the national youth engagement arm of the Center for American Progress –have been engaged in a multi-year campaign comprised of dozens of organizations dedicated to tackling the crippling and ever-growing issue of student loan debt in America. Our campaign, Higher Ed, Not Debt, works to address the existing $1.4 trillion national student debt, make college more affordable, and give those currently with education debt the resources for repayment and consumer protection. In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, there are over 330,000 federal student loan borrowers. State residents hold over $32.83 billion in federal and private student loans. Average student debt held by Massachusetts college graduates has risen substantially over the past decade, now above national average. The student lending market currently is marked by a lack of consumer protections or loan modification options for borrowers who are struggling with their debt or who may not have a clear understanding of the best repayment options available to them.
In 2015, Connecticut was the first state to pass a Borrower’s Bill of Rights law. Since then, more states have proposed their own versions of a Student Loan Bill of Rights. The premise is simple – the protections that borrowers have for other kinds of debt, like mortgage or auto debt, should also be applied to student loan debt, and states have a responsibility to ensure borrowers have these protections using their licensing authority.
Licensing and regularly reviewing servicers to operate in the state establishes necessary standards and oversight to be sure loan borrowers are given proper accommodation, customer service, and are not underserved or exploited by their servicing agencies for financial gain at their detriment.