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Tuesday, July 2, 2019

More protection for student borrowers

General Assembly passes Student Loan bill of Rights

Image result for predatory student lendingTreasurer Seth Magaziner and Attorney General Peter Neronha commended lawmakers for passing a Student Loan Bill of Rights to protect Rhode Islanders through new consumer protections and oversight of student loan servicing practices.

"There is a growing student debt crisis in the country and in Rhode Island. There are borrowers who do everything right and still fall victim to predatory and deceptive practices by the corporations that service their loans," said Treasurer Magaziner. 

"The Rhode Island General Assembly passed our common-sense legislation that will hold servicers accountable and provide an important resource for Rhode Islanders who are paying off student loans."

The Student Loan Bill of Rights was sponsored by Senator Dawn Euer (D- Dist. 13, Jamestown, Newport) and Representative Joseph McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston), with support from Brenda Dann-Messier, Commissioner of Postsecondary Education, and Liz Tanner, Director of the Department of Business Regulation.

"This is great news for Rhode Island borrowers," said Attorney General Neronha. 

"Our Office will now have the tools to investigate and enforce violations of the student loan standards outlined in this bill and serve as a trusted resource for borrowers, helping them address predatory and deceptive practices by their loan servicers. I applaud the General Assembly for making this much-needed fix to our consumer protection laws for student loan borrowers, and I look forward to working with them to ensure greater protections for all consumers."

More than 133,000 Rhode Islanders, including 16,000 senior citizens, have a combined $4.5 billion in student loan debt. Borrowers in Rhode Island report being double-charged or incorrectly marked as delinquent in payment, with loan servicers taking months, or ever years, to correct mistakes.

The Student Loan Bill of Rights sets standards for student loan servicing, both prohibiting predatory behavior and requiring best practices for protecting consumers' rights. 

It requires that student loan servicers register with the State, allows state regulators to examine servicers' business practices, and empowers the Attorney General to mediate complaints on behalf of borrowers and enforce violations of the law under the Deceptive Trade Practices Act, the state's primary consumer protection law.