A group of more than three dozen Democratic lawmakers on Friday sent a letter urging Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to reverse her decision to end a data-sharing agreement between the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Department of Education (ED).
In their letter, the lawmakers said they were "deeply concerned" that the termination of the partnership would leave student loan borrowers vulnerable to servicers. The lawmakers also said ED’s claims that the CFPB had overstepped its authority were inaccurate.
"Students and borrowers cannot afford to see these protections rolled back," the lawmakers wrote. "Cooperation between the Department and CFPB is in the best interest of students, borrowers, and taxpayers and the Department’s decision to abandon this partnership is contrary to its stated mission to ‘ease the burden for borrowers.’"
DeVos earlier this month quietly ended the data-sharing partnership, saying in a letter that the CFPB’s actions had "undermined" ED’s mission to oversee the federal student loan program and protect borrowers. The letter described ED’s decision to terminate two Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) enacted under the Obama administration. ED claimed the CFPB had handled complaints related to the Title IV federal student loan program, rather than directing them to ED within 10 days, as outlined in one of the two MOUs.
CFPB Director Richard Cordray responded to ED’s claims the next week, saying the department’s letter "appears to misunderstand the responsibilities" and authority Congress bestowed on the CFPB.
"I write in the hope that we can engage in a constructive conversation about how our agencies can continue to collaborate to best serve student loan borrowers," Cordray wrote. "There is plenty of work for each of us to do, but I believe we can generally do it better by working together."
The lawmakers also requested additional information from ED, including communications with the CFPB in which ED identified any concerns, data, or documentation that supports ED’s claims, and any communications with federal loan servicers referencing the information from ED’s letter. The lawmakers also requested ED to provide any "policies, plans, or procedures," ED has to increase its oversight over its contracted servicers and to "monitor potential violations of consumer protection law identified by borrower complaints until the MOUs are replaced or reinstated in order to come into compliance with legal requirements for interagency agreement."
Publication Date: 9/18/2017