Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García Calls on Consumer Director to Address Discrimination on Student Loans

March 7, 2019
Press Release

Washington, DC- Today during a hearing of the Committee on Financial Services entitled “Putting Consumers First? A Semi-Annual Review of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau,” Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04) pressed the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Kathy Kraninger, to commit to gaining a fuller understanding of the growing student debt problem, particularly in communities of color.

During the hearing, members heard that 15 months have passed since the CFPB has taken any action on behalf of 44 million student borrowers in the United States. Kraninger’s predecessor shuttered the Office of Students and Young Consumers, and the CFPB’s Student Loan ombudsman position has been left vacant for months. The growing student debt crisis is particularly acute among Latinos, yet the CFPB no longer has access to detailed data about racial disparities in student lending, since Education Secretary Betsy DeVos ended a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the CFPB and the Department of Education in 2017.

“Student loan debt has soared to an all-time high and is burying a generation of people,” said Congressman Garcia. “Citlali, a young woman in my district who attended Northeastern Illinois University, is struggling to keep up with her payments, even though she has a full-time job. She dreams of attending graduate school and continue her education, but she has had to defer that dream because she needs to continue to work to pay for her student loans.”

“Latinos are disproportionately struggling to pay their immense student loans, and comprise about a third of those who are not currently making payments on their student loans,” Congressman Garcia told Kraninger. “You cannot fix a problem that you do not understand, and right now the CFPB doesn’t have access to important data about who is struggling to repay their loans and why,” said Congressman García.

Congressman García won Kraninger’s assurances that the MOU was useful in helping the CFPB understand student debt and pressed her to commit to re-establishing it.

“If the CFPB takes student debt seriously, it should start acting like it, and that begins with gaining the fullest possible picture of the problem. We will be watching closely as CFPB moves forward to renew the MOU with the Department of Education. I will be asking for future updates on this matter,” said Congressman García.