Banking and Finance Law Daily CFPB and Education Dept. sign MOU to coordinate, resolve student loan complaints
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Tuesday, February 4, 2020

CFPB and Education Dept. sign MOU to coordinate, resolve student loan complaints

By Thomas G. Wolfe, J.D.

Under the MOU covering both private education loans and federal student loans, the CFPB and DOE will share borrower complaint information and will meet quarterly to discuss the information and to facilitate resolution of the complaints.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the U.S. Department of Education have entered into a new "Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)" to better serve student loan borrowers. Covering both private education loans and federal student loans, and in keeping with the Dodd-Frank Act, the MOU provides for the two federal agencies to share complaint information from student loan borrowers and to meet quarterly to "discuss observations about the nature of complaints received, characteristics of borrowers, and available information about resolution of complaints." In addition, the MOU provides for the sharing of "complaint data analysis, recommendations, and analytical tools."

CFPB Director Kathleen Kraninger remarked that the MOU "provides a robust framework that allows for the staff at both agencies to work together to provide better outcomes for consumers." Likewise, DOE Secretary Betsy DeVos commented that "[a]ll student loan borrowers deserve world-class service and quick resolution when facing issues," and that the new MOU will help the two agencies "coordinate our regulatory efforts, avoid duplication, and protect student loan borrowers."

Additional MOU features. Among other things, the MOU, signed by respective Bureau and DOE representatives on Jan. 31, 2020, also:

  • notes that the information-sharing under the MOU will take place "to the extent permitted by applicable privacy laws and regulations";
  • states that the MOU neither expands nor limits the CFPB’s or DOE’s authorities or responsibilities under federal law, "regardless of loan type or issue type";
  • specifies the procedures and protocols for the agencies’ handling of complaints from student loan borrowers;
  • outlines the permissible uses and confidentiality of information exchanged between the CFPB and DOE; and
  • allows for the sharing of "data analytics," subject to the rules governing privacy, confidentiality, and permissible uses.

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