• April 18, 2014

Federal Agency Releases Database of Student-Loan Borrowers' Complaints

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced on Thursday that it had expanded a public database of complaints it has received on financial products and services, to include federal and private student loans.

The database, which was made public last summer with a focus on credit-card complaints, now includes more than 90,000 consumer complaints about mortgages, bank products, and consumer and student loans as well. Also starting on Thursday, the public will be able to search the data based on 12 types of information, such as the company about which the complaint was filed and the company's response.

The bureau started collecting complaints about private student loans in March 2012, and this February it began asking for suggestions on how to make private-loan payments more affordable and create a refinancing market. That request has drawn more than 500 responses that highlight a growing call for improvement in policy options for private-loan borrowers, according to a written statement by Rohit Chopra, the bureau's loan ombudsman. Among the top concerns for borrowers is their inability to refinance their loans or negotiate more-flexible repayment options.

Richard Cordray, the bureau's director, said at a news conference on Thursday that although each complaint may not lead to an individual solution or restitution, together they help the bureau deal with larger issues in the financial markets and influence how the bureau approaches its supervisory work. Some respondents are borrowers who took out substantial private student loans and are now struggling to make ends meet, Mr. Cordray said.

"We still hear them," he said, "and understand the effect on their lives."

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