CALIFORNIA'S STUDENT DEBT CRISIS
California is facing a student debt crisis. As the Trump administration tears down federal protections for student loan borrowers and turns a blind eye to financial industry abuses, it is time for California to act.
borrowers behind on their student loans
California Student Loan Borrowers Deserve Protection
California student borrowers are struggling to climb out from under crushing debt. Meanwhile, student loan companies are getting rich off of lucrative government contracts funded by taxpayer money meant to be an investment in the next generation of Americans. These companies – known as student loan servicers – use slick marketing and shady lobbying to convince lawmakers that they are helping students and their families.
In reality, student loan servicers exploit lax oversight to line their own pockets at the expense of millions of Californians simply trying to achieve the American dream.
To add insult to injury, student loan servicers routinely drive borrowers into delinquency and default by obstructing borrowers’ access to critical repayment protections. In 2017 alone, more than one million Americans defaulted on a student loan nationwide – three times the number who lost homes to foreclosure.
Like the fallout from a predatory mortgage, student loan distress is devastating for borrowers and for communities, ruining the financial lives of those it touches – including the seniors, veterans, teachers, nurses, and public servants who too often bear the brunt of servicing failures.
Even the Trump Treasury Department sounded alarms about this broken system, arguing that “Federal student loan servicing currently lacks effective minimum servicing standards” and criticized continuing failures by Betsy DeVos’ Education Department.
What California is Already Doing to Protect Borrowers
California continues to lead the nation in the fight to protect borrowers, as officials take action to stamp out illegal practices by the largest student loan companies, and demand accountability from the student loan industry. This includes:
California Attorney General Becerra sued one of the nation’s largest student loan companies, Navient (formerly Sallie Mae), for cheating borrowers with every type of student loan, at every step of the repayment process. Navient handles loans for more than 1.5 million people in California.
California launched a new oversight program to scrutinize the practices of student loan servicers and demand new accountability for practices that affect millions of Californians.
In 2019, the California Assembly announced a new “Select Committee on Student Debt,” making California the first state in the nation to create a legislative committee focused on the problems facing millions of borrowers struggling under the weight of historic student debt. The California Assembly Select Committee on Student Debt will take testimony from borrowers and experts across the state, offering lawmakers the opportunity to hear directly from those impacted by the student debt crisis.
These are critical steps to protect borrowers’ rights. But to solve the problem, California needs to keep fighting for Golden State borrowers. California Needs a Borrower Bill of Rights.