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CFPB schools work to address student debt
WASHINGTON (6/6/12)--Six colleges and four state university systems this week agreed to work with the government to provide key financial information, up front, to incoming students, and Vice President Joe Biden, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Richard Cordray and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on Tuesday urged all colleges and universities to provide the same information to their students.

Cordray in a prepared statement delivered during a Tuesday press conference said his agency has received thousands of comments from students that are "in over their heads" after taking out private student loans to cover their college costs.

The CFPB director said the process of figuring out how to pay for college can be "complex and confusing," and many factors make it difficult for students "to clearly see and compare college costs, evaluate financial aid options, and figure out how much debt they can afford."

Vassar College, Miami Dade College, Arizona State University, Syracuse University, North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University, and the University of North Carolina joined the state university systems of Maryland, Massachusetts, New York and Texas that have agreed to provide incoming student information on:

  • The cost of one year of college at their institution;
  • Financial aid options to repay this cost;
  • How grants and scholarships could help minimize educational costs;
  • The estimated monthly payments students will need to cover after they graduate; and
  • Returning student enrollment rates, graduation rates, and loan repayment rates.
The schools and systems will provide this information beginning in 2013.

The Credit Union National Association estimates that around 300 credit unions currently offer student loans to their members, and those credit unions often provide loans with terms and interest rates that are fair to their members. Credit unions also provide financial education and seminars relating to student lending generally, and encourage students to attend. The CUStudentLoans.org website also provides extensive financial education regarding student lending, through both written information and webinars. The site is powered by Fynanz, a CUNA Strategic Services provider.

The CFPB is working with the U.S. Department of Education on a "Know Before You Owe" project to help borrowers, including student borrowers, understand debt implications, and is studying the private student lending market. A report on that market is expected to be released this summer.

The CFPB and Department of Education are also developing a financial aid shopping sheet for prospective students, and comments on that sheet will be accepted until June 20.

For more on the CFPB's student lending initiatives, use the resource link.
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