Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum this week is hosting her third national symposium, called Student Debt 3.0, on the student debt crisis at the Porter Hotel in downtown Portland.
The symposium, co-sponsored by the Student Borrower Protection Center (SBPC), is attended by state AG offices, members of the legal community, policy advisors and national experts in the field of student debt. The symposium includes five panels of experts engaging on the most challenging and cutting-edge issues on this timely topic, Including:
- The State of Student Debt
- Shadow Student Debt, ISA’s (Income Share Agreements) and institutional Debt
- Training Repayment Agreement Provisions (TRAP)/Employer-Driven Debt
- Consumer Protection and Emerging Risks in Higher Education
- Return to Repayment
Earlier this week AG Rosenblum hosted two other consumer protection events: her annual luncheon the Consumer Law Section of the Oregon State Bar and the National Association of Attorneys General and State Center Western Region Consumer Protection Training. The training centered on current issues and best practices in consumer protection, and many of the attendees from across the western states also joined the student debt program.
“Students leaving school with heaps of debt particularly grab my heartstrings because of how difficult it is for them to be able to use their education to get ahead–not behind,” said AG Rosenblum. “When I held our first national symposium on this topic in 2016, the student debt levels were a significant emerging crisis, but fast forward six years, and the numbers are simply staggering. The average Oregon student loan borrower now owes over $38,962 by the time they leave school or graduate. Combined, Oregonians have more than $20.7 billion dollars in student loan debt, with an estimated 85,000 Oregonians —the minute the “pause” on student loan repayment is lifted this fall—behind on their payments. With student debt numbers this large, it is easy to understand how student loans can turn into the obligation of a lifetime,” added AG Rosenblum. ” We must keep fighting to ensure that won’t happen, That’s why we’re here again– taking the time to update and strategize together.”
The keynote address was delivered by Seth Frotman, general counsel at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
“With just weeks to go before student loan payments restart for 40 million people and on the heels of the Supreme Court’s decision to block student debt relief, this is an all-hands-on-deck moment for state and federal consumer protection officials,” said SBPC executive director Mike Pierce. “Attorney General Rosenblum once again has seized the moment and brought together the consumer protection community to chart a path forward to hold predatory student loan companies accountable and protect working people with student debt.”
During her three terms as Attorney General, AG Rosenblum has been committed to helping students and consumers saddled with education-related debt. The two prior symposia were held in 2016 and 2019.
In 2017, AG Rosenblum spearheaded a law that requires all Oregon colleges and universities to send students annual, easy-to-understand letters explaining the scope of their federal education debt. In 2021, she initiated a “Student Loan Borrowers Bill of Rights” to address many of the problems borrowers experience with companies that service their student loans. Over the past decade, along with her AG colleagues in other states, Rosenblum has been actively engaged in shutting down some of the most predatory for-profit schools, like Corinthian and IIT, that have wreaked havoc on student debtors’ lives. Student loan servicers have also been a major target of multistate litigation. A recent national settlement with Navient Corporation, one of the largest student loan servicers, resulted in 5,488 Oregonian federal loan borrowers receiving $1.4 million in restitution, with 864 Oregon borrowers receiving private loan debt cancellation.
“The three-year long federal student loan payment ‘pause’ that so many borrowers have gotten used to will expire this fall,” said Attorney General Rosenblum. “It is important that all student loan borrowers know interest on all federal student loans will begin to accrue again on September 1, with payments beginning on October 1,” said AG Rosenblum. “Borrowers should pay attention to every communication they receive from their servicers, re-sign into online accounts, but also be aware of potential scams. Be wary of contacts ‘out of the blue’ — do not provide personal information or payments of any kind until you have ascertained they are in fact your new loan servicer.”
Anybody with questions about student loans, or scams, are encouraged to first visit studentaid.gov, especially those searching for more information on the restart of payments, or contact Oregon’s Student Loan Ombudsperson, Lane Thompson, at 888-877-4894 (toll-free).
Earlier this month, the Oregon Department of Justice also joined other states and the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to sue a company called “Prehired” over deceptive marketing and illegal student loan practices. Read more details on the lawsuit here.