Making It Easier to Compare College Costs

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

— by Rohit Chopra, Student Loan Ombudsman, The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Getting accepted to college should be cause for celebration, a point of pride for both students and their families. But with so much information to navigate about schools, grants, and loans, financing that education can sometimes be overwhelming.

We want it to be a little less daunting for people to figure out how they’ll pay for college.

Today, we take a big step in that direction with a new prototype Financial Aid Comparison Shopper.

Try it out: www.consumerfinance.gov/payingforcollege/

Try the Financial Aid Comparison Shopper

This year, millions of students and families will sift through college acceptances and student loan information. We want to help them make the best college financing choices for themselves.

Our goal is to give parents and students, especially high school seniors, an easy-to-understand view of how their decisions today will impact their debt burdens after graduation. This tool helps users make side-by-side cost comparisons between schools, tailored to their unique financial circumstances and estimated costs of attendance.

This is just our starting point, and we need your help to ensure that the Financial Aid Comparison Shopper addresses the needs of students and their families. Your feedback will directly impact the changes we make before our full launch.

So tell us what you think. Did you learn something? Did you find it useful? If you are already in school or a graduate, would this tool have helped you when deciding which school to attend?

Was the tool easy to navigate? What about it was difficult to understand?

Whether you want to help students and their families understand their financial choices or you want to get a bit of insight into your own family’s choices, we invite you to test the public prototype of our new Financial Aid Comparison Shopper.

www.consumerfinance.gov/payingforcollege/

 

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Getting the Picture: Payday Loans

Paydays loans may give consumers quick and easy access to cash, especially when they find themselves in a financial pinch. But these loans, with their high fees and requirement of immediate repayment out of the consumer’s next paycheck, can send consumers into a cycle of debt.

The CFPB wants to know how these small-dollar loans impact consumers. So yesterday, Director Rich Cordray and several members of our leadership team traveled to Birmingham, Ala., to gather with consumer and civil rights groups, industry representatives, and the public. We wanted to listen, learn, and collect information about the multi-billion dollar payday lending business.

Watch Director Cordray’s introduction to the hearing and tell us what you’re seeing in your community about payday loans.


Payday loans typically allow consumers to receive funds very quickly, but they can also present potential harm. For example, repayment is often due within two weeks at a hefty price. The annual percentage rate (APR) sometimes reaches more than 400 percent. A consumer who can’t pay on time may take on more debt to cover the previous loan that has now come due. This can spiral quickly into an ongoing cycle of debt.

We are just beginning our nonbank supervision program, which includes payday lenders. We want to hear more about how the payday loan market is operating throughout the country. What can you tell us?

Check out the speech,  get the full picture, and then tell us your story!

Sound Off on Student Loans


We’ve spent the past few months working hard on student loan issues. We launched a Know Before You Owe student loans project, released the Student Debt Repayment Assistant, and gathered information on the private student loan marketplace.

To make sure this market works for students, lenders, and schools, we need more information from the people who know this market best: the people who have been part of it.

We’ve published a notice in the Federal Register asking people to share their experiences with private student loans. We want to hear from anyone who has ever dealt with these loans: students, their families, school counselors, lenders, and servicers.

Do any of those sound like you? Then we need your input, but we need it soon. The comment period for this notice closes in just six days.

Tell us about your experience with private student loans.
www.consumerfinance.gov/students/your-experience-with-private-student-loans/

Already, we’ve received hundreds of comments. But other people know their own experiences, not yours.

Your story gives your unique perspective on how people make decisions about which loans to borrow. That’s a perspective we want to hear.

If you’ve ever borrowed a private student loan, tell us more about whether this market did or did not work for you. Why did you take out a private loan? How did you decide to do it? Did it affect your study or career choices?

We’ll read every single comment. This summer, when we prepare a report to Congress on the private student loan market, your comment will help inform our work. And your comment will be part of the Federal Register so other people who may share a similar experience to yours can read it.

It’s a chance to have a direct impact on which issues we’ll examine closely in the coming months. But to add your comment to the Register, you need to submit it by January 17th.

Whether you have two sentences or two pages to tell us, we want to hear from you. It takes just a few minutes to submit your comment online.

Submit your comment today.
www.consumerfinance.gov/students/your-experience-with-private-student-loans/

Thank you,
Rohit Chopra
Student Loan Ombudsman
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

P.S. There’s also still time to tell us your thoughts on our Know Before You Owe student loans project. Tell us what you like and what you’d improve about our prototype Financial Aid Shopping Sheet. We’ll be sure to read your feedback and share it with the Department of Education. Click here to participate.

GOP Furious as Obama for appointing Cordray

For months, Senate Republicans refused to allow an up-or-down vote on President Obama’s nomination of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  This wasn’t just about one man, it was an effort to cripple this critical new agency just as it was getting going.

Thousands of you signed our petition in support of the President’s choice, and in opposition to the GOP’s endless obstructionism.

Well, in a move that truly falls in the category of “awesome,” President Obama just used a recess appointment  to put Cordray into the job without the need for Senate approval (i.e., because the Senate was technically in recess).  The GOP is furious at what it calls hardball tactics.

And we couldn’t be happier.  Send President Obama a message today, thank him for taking this action, and fighting back.  And tell him “more of this, please!”  


Berkley Statement 

 “Time To Put The Interests Of Middle Class Nevadans Ahead Of
The Wall Street Billionaires”

Las Vegas- Congresswoman Shelley Berkley issued the following statement regarding the decision by President Obama to use a recess appointment to install Richard Cordray as Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Agency:

“With our economy struggling to recover, Nevada’s middle class families cannot afford for Dean Heller and his fellow Washington Republicans to continue blocking the new Wall Street Watch Dog Agency from holding the big banks accountable.  It’s long past time to put the interests of middle class Nevadans ahead of the Wall Street billionaires and install a new Director at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.”

USA Today Rips Apart Dean Heller’s Argument for Voting Against Wall Street Watch Dog Richard Cordray:

 KEY POINT: For example, critics say the consumer bureau somehow isn’t accountable and can do whatever it likes. In fact, it’s the only banking regulator whose rules can be vetoed by the Financial Stability Oversight Council, a group of the government’s top financial regulators. Critics insist it’s dangerous and unusual that the consumer bureau is run by a single director instead of a multimember commission, but that’s how the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, a key bank regulator, has operated since 1863. Commissions are more easily hobbled by members who seek to undermine them.

The solution, the GOP senators say, is to make the bureau more accountable to Congress. Quick now: Everyone who trusts members of Congress to write rules, with little public scrutiny, that are disliked by the institutions that fund their campaigns, raise your hands. Those would be the same institutions that want the agency weakened.

No hands? Didn’t think so.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/editorials/story/2011-12-07/Confirm-consumer-protection-bureau-director/51721834/1

Editorial: Confirm consumer protection bureau director

The consumer bureau, created in the wake of the economic devastation of 2008, is a central part of reforms designed to rein in the bad actors who caused so much misery by writing bad mortgages, creating exotic and dangerous financial products, and otherwise preying on the public. It is specifically charged with preventing financial institutions from marketing deceptive products and forcing them to clearly explain the loans, credit cards, mortgages and other products they do offer.

Given the misery the country has suffered from the government’s failure to monitor such practices, it seems a sensible addition. But it is one of the agencies Republicans in Congress most love to hate. They fought its creation, and having lost they’ve made every effort to hobble it. Today, they are expected to reject President Obama’s nominee to head the agency, not because he is objectionable but because the agency is. So they want to starve it, along with other elements of financial reform. “The less we fund those agencies, the better America will be,” Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell declared in June.

While GOP critics say soothingly that they’re merely trying to make the consumer agency more accountable, they clearly aim to undercut it.

For example, critics say the consumer bureau somehow isn’t accountable and can do whatever it likes. In fact, it’s the only banking regulator whose rules can be vetoed by the Financial Stability Oversight Council, a group of the government’s top financial regulators. Critics insist it’s dangerous and unusual that the consumer bureau is run by a single director instead of a multimember commission, but that’s how the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, a key bank regulator, has operated since 1863. Commissions are more easily hobbled by members who seek to undermine them.

The solution, the GOP senators say, is to make the bureau more accountable to Congress. Quick now: Everyone who trusts members of Congress to write rules, with little public scrutiny, that are disliked by the institutions that fund their campaigns, raise your hands. Those would be the same institutions that want the agency weakened.

No hands? Didn’t think so.

The new agency won’t be toothless if the Senate fails to confirm its director. It can already regulate the way banks deal with consumers, and in the five months since it opened, the bureau has worked to create simplified new information for mortgages, student loans and credit cards so consumers know what they’re signing up for.

But without a director, the bureau can’t regulate financial institutions such as the non-bank mortgage lenders that contributed to the financial crisis, or payday lenders who lure desperate borrowers into exorbitantly priced loans that can trap them forever.

That would be a shame. Lawmakers should be wary of too much regulation, but if they ignore the need for reasonable restrictions they risk letting the nation get burned all over again.


Former NV Consumer Advocate Praises President’s Appointment
of Richard Cordray to be Wall Street Watchdog

Las Vegas, NV – Former Nevada Consumer Advocate Timothy Hay released the following statement praising President Obama’s recess appointment of Richard Cordray to serve as the Wall Street watchdog:

“I applaud President Obama for using his Constitutional authority today to recess-appoint former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray as head of the Consumer Financial Product Bureau – America’s first-ever consumer watchdog created by the President’s Wall Street reform.  As America’s consumer watchdog, Richard Cordray will have one job – looking out for the best interests of consumers. His job will be to protect families from the abuses of the financial industry, and make sure you’ve got all the information you need to make important financial decisions.   The President’s announcement today highlights his commitment to fighting for the middle class and holding Wall Street accountable, in contrast to Republicans like Mitt Romney who want to continue to let Wall Street write its own rules.”

Fact-Checking Heller’s Anti-Consumer Protectionism

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 5, 2012
Contact: Berkley Campaign, Eric Koch
702.675.6711


FACT CHECK: HELLER’S LONG ANTI-CONSUMER PROTECTION HISTORY

Heller Statement Doesn’t Match Facts, Sides With Wall Street Against Nevada Middle-Class Consumers 

Heller Willing to Say or Do Anything To Try and Get Elected

Las Vegas – It must be “Say or Do Anything to Try and Get Elected Week” for unelected Sen. Dean Heller.  This week he admitted to being for, then against, then for, earmarks — and just yesterday he tried to gloss over his long history of siding with Wall Street’s army of lobbyists against Nevada consumers.

In case you missed it, yesterday Heller brazenly sent out a bewildering statement that said he’s “always been a strong supporter of effective consumer protection.”

Really? Just take a look at his record:

  • Voting against Wall Street Reform: In 2010, Heller voted against landmark legislation cracking down on some of the most abusive practices of Wall Street banks.
  • Voting against Credit Card Company Reform: In 2009, Heller voted against the Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights.  The bill expanded a number of disclosure requirements, prohibited certain practices related to interest rate charges and restricted the ability of credit card companies to change the terms of accounts after they were established.
  • Voting against Director Of Bureau Of Consumer Financial Protection: On December 8, 2011 Heller voted against a cloture motion to nominate Richard Cordray to be director of the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection.
  • Voting to Keep Vital Consumer Product Information from Consumers: In 2011, Heller voted for an amendment that would bar funds related to launching the consumer product safety information database established under the Consumer Product Safety Act and signed into law by President George Bush.

Doesn’t sound like a “strong supporter of effective consumer protection to me”…

Background

Heller Voted Against Wall Street Reform. In 2010, Heller voted against a bill that would overhaul the regulation of the financial services industry. The measure would create new regulatory mechanisms to assess risks posed by very large financial institutions and facilitate the orderly dissolution of failing firms that pose a threat to the economy. It would create a new federal agency to oversee consumer financial products, bring the derivatives market under significant federal regulation for the first time and give company shareholders and regulators greater say on executive pay packages. The costs would be offset by terminating the Trouble Asset Relief Program and increasing deposit insurance premiums paid by some banks. [HR 4173, Vote 413, 6/30/10]

Heller Voted Against Legislation That Would Protect Consumers From Abusive Practices Used By Credit Card Companies. In 2009, Heller voted against the Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights.  The bill expanded a number of disclosure requirements, prohibited certain practices related to interest rate charges and restricted the ability of credit card companies to change the terms of accounts after they were established.  The bill prevented credit card companies from raising interest rates arbitrarily and charging certain fees.  Companies were prohibited from raising interest rates on existing balances unless the borrower pays at least 60 days late.  If the cardholder paid on time for the following six months, the company had to restore the original rate.  The bill required consumers to be able to elect to avoid over-the-spending limit fees by prohibiting the card company from completing a transaction that would push an account over its spending limit.   The bill passed 361-64. [CQ Today Online, 5/20/09; Washington Post, 5/23/09; CQ House Action Reports Legislative Week, 5/19/09; HR627, Vote #276, 5/20/09]

Heller Voted Against Nomination Of Richard Cordray To Director Of Bureau Of Consumer Financial Protection. On December 8, 2011 Dean Heller voted against a cloture motion to nominate Richard Cordray to be director of the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection. [PN784, Vote #223, 12/8/11]

Cordray’s Appointment Critical To Allowing Consumer Financial Protection Bureau To Begin Work Supervising Payday Lenders, Debt Collectors, Credit Reporting Agencies And Private Student Lenders. In December 2011 the Las Vegas Review-Journal wrote, “The Senate has set a vote Thursday to confirm former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, one of the components of the Dodd-Frank law that was enacted last year to reform Wall Street practices. The bureau opened in July but is unable to fully carry out its job without a director, White House officials said. The agency is unable to fully supervise nonbank financial services such as payday lenders, nonbank mortgage companies, debt collectors, credit reporting agencies and private student lenders, the officials said.” [Las Vegas Review-Journal, 12/5/11]

Deputy Director Of The National Economic Council Brian Deese: “These Institutions Affect The Daily Livelihood Of Tens Of Millions Of Americans. Without A Director To The Agency, You Don’t Have A Cop On The Beat Looking At These Institutions And Taking Steps On Behalf Of Consumers.” [Las Vegas Review-Journal, 12/5/11]

Heller Voted Against Strengthening Food Safety Laws In The Wake Of Reports of Tainted Peanut Butter, Spinach, Tomatoes, Cookie Dough, Other Products. In August 2009, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that “The House last week passed a sweeping update to the nation’s food safety laws, directing the Food and Drug Administration to step up factory inspections and to require food processors to improve their contamination controls. Lawmakers voted 283-142 to give the FDA new enforcement powers through a bill that was called the first major overhaul of food safety law since 1938. … Health and consumer groups pushed for stronger safety laws after a wave of deaths and illnesses traced to tainted peanut butter, spinach, tomatoes, cookie dough and other foods in recent years.  … Reps. Shelley Berkley and Dina Titus, both D-Nev., voted for the bill. Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev., voted against it.” [Las Vegas Review-Journal, 8/2/2009]

Heller Voted to Keep Vital Consumer Product Information from Consumers. In 2011, Heller voted for an amendment that would bar funds related to launching the consumer product safety information database established under the Consumer Product Safety Act and signed into law by President George Bush.  According to the Wichita Eagle, the amendment offered by Rep. Mike Pompeo, would delay the site to make changes that Pompeo and the business community would prefer. One of Pompeo’s changes would be to make it harder for consumer groups and lawyers to submit product complaints. The amendment was adopted, 234-187. [Wichita Eagle, 3/07/11; HR 1, Pompeo amendment #545,Vote #137, 2/19/11]

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