U.S. Congressman John Sarbanes (D-Md.) today commended the release of a new report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that outlines the challenges facing America's military servicemembers as they manage their student loans. This report highlights obstacles servicemembers may face when accessing U.S. Department of Education programs, including Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, a benefit created by Congressman Sarbanes in 2007.
The review, The Next Front? Student Loan Servicing and the Cost to Our Men and Women in Uniform, reports that servicemembers often receive incomplete or inaccurate information about their student loans, face difficulty navigating the system of benefits available to them, and encounter roadblocks when they try to claim their benefits. The CFPB and the Department of Defense also announced a new partnership to address these problems that will include training Judge Advocate Generals, Education Service Officers, and working with personal financial counselors on military bases.
"Servicemembers and veterans make huge sacrifices to protect us both at home and abroad," said Congressman Sarbanes. "The federal government and the student loan servicing industry both have a responsibility to provide them with accurate, thorough and timely information about the benefits they have earned, particularly when it comes to benefits that will help them pursue higher education and reward them for their service."
Congressman Sarbanes is dedicated to assisting graduates who pursue careers in public service. In 2007, he authored the legislation that created the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, which provides loan repayment assistance and debt forgiveness to public servants and servicemembers. The new CFPB report points out that servicemembers may not know this option is available to them and that federal student loan servicers may not inform them about this benefit. As a result, these men and women may not be receiving important benefits for which they are eligible, or worse, may choose not to pursue higher education because of the cost.
"We've worked hard to give servicemembers well-deserved help as they struggle to manage their education loans, but if they don't know what options are available, our work has fallen short," said Congressman Sarbanes.
The CFPB report is an important step forward in identifying shortfalls in student loan servicing and will be critical in taking steps to ensure that the needs of our servicemembers are met in the future. For more information, read the full report here: http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201210_cfpb_servicemember-student-loan-servicing.pdf