Betsy DeVos and her bear order Richard Cordray to leave (illustrated)

Uh oh.

It took two months, but apparently the Education Department finally realized the CFPB is trying to do Betsy DeVos’ job for her.

I wrote back then that the CFPB had stepped in to help borrowers track their eligibility for student loan forgiveness, pitch Congress on student loan fixes, and update its regulations of student loan servicers.

What choice did it have? The Education Department at best simply didn’t seem to care, and at worst was actively trying to prevent consumers from seeking forgiveness and in other cases was siding with loan servicers by relaxing regulations.

Now, a new Education Department memo shows DeVos will try to take away the CFPB’s best tool in that fight — access to the Education Department’s student loan complaint database.

No more understanding

The memo is kind of dry, but at the same time, kind of funny because of how bitterly it reads. It’s a letter from Betsy DeVos’ lieutenant Kathleen Smith to CFPB Director Richard Cordray which accuses the CFPB of “intervention,” “overreach,” and sowing “confusion.”

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There are a lot of confusing things going on with student loans, but they’re mostly related to the Education Department’s doublespeak. And it’s awfully weird to claim someone is getting in your way when you’re sitting on your butt. Anyway, here are the good parts…

The purpose of the Sharing MOU was to allow our agencies “to collaborate to ensure coordination in providing assistance to and serving borrowers seeking to resolve complaints related to their private education or Federal student loans.” […] The CFPB’s actions have undermined that mission by violating the intent of the MOUs.

Borrowers and servicers now hear conflicting guidance related to the Title IV student loan services. Our goals are to ease the burden for borrowers and to enhance the efficiencies of our servicers — not to complicate the process with potentially inaccurate and inconsistent directives.

This latest expansion is characteristic of an overreaching and unaccountable agency. […] The Department takes exception to the CFPB unilaterally expanding its oversight role to include the Department’s contracted federal loan servicers.

All of this sounds like a 5-year-old getting mad her little brother is playing with a toy she has neglected for months. But it means that in 30 days from the letter — so, Sept. 30 — the CFPB will no longer have access to consumer complaints about federal student loans through the Department.

What next?

For its part, the CFPB has told Politico it asked for clarification on why the Education Department is being a petulant baby (not in so many words) and will continue to work with DeVos as much as possible, but also plans to continue independent enforcement efforts.

The same day it sent the letter, the Education Department puffed out its chest and issued a press release which includes Betsy DeVos saying “protecting students has always been my top priority” and promising to step up consumer protections against “bad actors” with some new hires.

Unfortunately, at this point, it’s hard to believe Betsy DeVos knows what a bad actor looks like. She floated the idea of giving all student loan servicing to Navient, which is currently being sued by the federal government for ripping students off $4 billion. While she backed off that dumb idea, she hasn’t done anything since to suggest her judgment has improved.

This week The New York Times Magazine put out a big story on how badly Betsy DeVos’ push for charter schools in Michigan failed. Now we’re hearing she intends to kill Obama-era rules designed to ensure colleges took complaints of sexual assault seriously, with the same tired argument she always makes: The rules complicate things and confuse people.

The good news is that Betsy DeVos doesn’t get to decide all the rules. And the CFPB is still defiantly accepting complaints about student loans.

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Article last modified on September 21, 2017. Published by Debt.com, LLC .