Student debt is the defining economic challenge for a generation of Americans. To find a solution, we need the best minds, the brightest scholars, and the most innovative researchers to tackle the problem with a strategic and coordinated approach.  

That is why we partnered with the University of California, Irvine School of Law to create the Student Loan Law Initiative (SLLI), the nation’s first academic project focused on student debt and the law.

As the student loan market expanded over the past decade, borrowers have turned to the courts, regulators, and lawmakers to protect and expand their rights and halt student loan industry abuses. However, these efforts often faltered, lacking a solid foundation of rigorous analysis and comprehensive legal research.

SLLI changes this dynamic.

SLLI will deploy a unique set of tools to define the field of student loan law and protect borrowers’ rights—the expertise of the nation’s leading consumer law scholars, the infrastructure of a world-class research institution, and the insight and experience of the former senior government leaders at the Student Borrower Protection Center.

Together, UCI Law and SBPC will:

Drive innovative, impactful scholarship on student loan law.

Novel consumer protection litigation, regulation, and legislation present new opportunities for scholars to connect the fields of consumer law, bankruptcy, constitutional law, civil rights, and administrative law. SLLI will drive new research to expand “student loan law” as its own academic discipline, directly affecting 44 million borrowers. In addition to contributions from leading consumer law scholars at UCI, faculty across the country will be able to affiliate with SLLI. These affiliated scholars will collaborate on new, policy-focused scholarship, seizing this historic opportunity both to define this field of law and to drive consumer-focused reform for America’s student loan borrowers.

Expose the breadth of the student debt crisis and reveal breakdowns in the student loan market through better data.

SLLI will pursue creative approaches to data-driven research. This work will highlight the challenges facing student loan borrowers across the country. For example, SLLI-sponsored research will explore the spillover effects of student debt on the economy and society and offer a closer look at the consequences of rising debt for families, communities, governments, and the courts. By filling gaps in data that impede policymaking and litigation, SLLI scholarship will offer empirical evidence for those seeking to halt abuse and help borrowers struggling under the weight of rising student debt.

Leverage hands-on clinical practice to protect individual borrowers and advance reform across the student loan system.

SLLI will partner with UCI Law’s Consumer Law Clinic, leveraging the clinic’s legal services focus to identify emerging risks to student loan borrowers, help individuals, and use impact litigation to address abuses  that affect millions of student borrowers nationwide. SLLI will also work to support law school clinics and legal services providers across the country. SLLI’s clinical partners can replicate UCI Law’s approach to assisting the low-income individuals and organizational clients on the front lines of the student debt crisis.

To learn more about SLLI or to find out how to partner with us, contact studentloanlaw@protectborrowers.org.