In the wake of its announcement that student loan debt had passed the $1.2 trillion mark, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau continues to focus on student loan debt. The Bureau launched a toolkit for public service employers aimed at raising awareness of federal student loan debt forgiveness programs and released a consumer advisory on accessing student loan funds during college.
Such programs seek to incentivize those considering public sector employment who might otherwise be dissuaded from pursuing such a career by the high debt-to-income ratio. As an example, the August 28 press release cited an average of $35,516 in debt for a graduate degree in social work, but an average starting salary of $32,000. Multiple such programs exist, but the toolkit emphasizes Public Service Loan Forgiveness, a program created in 2007 for public servants who make on-time payments for ten years. Many public service fields face upcoming workforce shortages, and the press release emphasized the need to attract new teachers, healthcare workers, policemen, social workers, firefighters and other first responders to replace their retiring baby boomer counterparts.
In remarks during a press call, CFPB Director Richard Cordray also urged such employers to sign a pledge agreeing “to talk to their employees about student debt and to help them enroll in student loan repayment benefits.” He further stated that the initiative “is designed to permit people to exercise more fully their responsibility in the great common cause of developing this country to be a better place.”
In a blog post published a few days later, the CFPB issued a brief notice about the dispersal of scholarship, grant and student loan funds. The post offered commonsense advice about student checking accounts and debit cards, warning against third-party debit cards which appear to be school-endorsed.