Ahead of the hearing, Frotman’s organization, the Student Borrower Protection Center, published an article Wednesday highlighting the ways in which using data points like college major, standardized test scores, and school for underwriting could put a lender at risk of discriminating against certain groups of borrowers. “Access to education in America has been very exclusive and limited,” said Aryn Bussey, a fellow at the SBPC, former legislative and executive branch education policy staffer, and the author of the post. “How can we use it to determine creditworthiness without further marginalizing people who have already been shut out of our credit system?”
“The student-loan lobby claims to support students and their families,” said Seth Frotman, executive director of the Student Borrower Protection Center and former top student loan official at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. “But the reality is that executives are profiting enormously off of a broken system that leaves so many borrowers crippled in debt. Over the decades, we’ve seen a revolving door of lobbyists peddle policies designed to exploit the pursuit of the American dream.”
“The decision is an enormous victory for student loan borrowers, state attorneys general and every American who rejects the idea that big companies should be able to trample on borrowers’ rights with impunity,” said Frotman, who now runs the Student Borrower Protection Center.
Civil rights organizations are urging the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to step up oversight of the student-loan servicing industry and root out discrimination.
June 6, 2019 | Civil Rights Group Press CFPB
“Civil rights groups are urging the CFPB to protect student loan borrowers from discrimination in the industry. This move (in a letter to Dir. Kraninger) comes two years after the CFPB announced that it would prioritize the oversight needed to protect student loan borrowers from discrimination”
April 30, 2019 | Student Loan Debt Crisis: How Did We Get Here?
“The really scary thing is we don’t really have a plan to either address the millions of borrowers who’ve taken on student loan debt or a plan to really stop this,” said Seth Frotman, the former student loan ombudsman at the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
“The department’s actions are like throwing sand in the gears, slowing down state law enforcement investigations aimed at protecting student loan borrowers,” said Seth Frotman, a former student loan ombudsman for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau who resigned last year and started a nonprofit called the Student Borrower Protection Center.
April 9, 2019 | The Seven Minute Rule
Seth Frotman joins Michael Lewis on the popular podcast Against The Rules to discuss how the government protects us from some dangerous products, but not from others that, over time, ruin countless lives.
April 8, 2019 | POLITICO Morning Education
Meanwhile, Seth Frotman, the former top student loan official at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, is calling on Congress to adopt greater protections for students as part of the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.
In an interview with Yahoo Finance, former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Ombudsman and current Executive Director of D.C.-based nonprofit Student Borrower Protection Center Seth Frotman explained that the ongoing crisis is a result of decades of unchecked behavior of various predatory parties and weak government regulation of the industry.
Six Democratic senators, including two presidential candidates, sent a letter to the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Wednesday demanding that the agency prove it is policing the companies, known as servicers, that the government pays to manage its trillion-dollar, federal student loan portfolio.
March 29, 2019 | The Obscure Debt Holding Back Thousands of Students
Font is one of at least thousands of students across the country whose educational future is being put in jeopardy by a bill owed to a college or university. Colleges typically withhold students’ transcripts if they owe a debt to the institution. . . . The true scope of the problem is hard to gauge, but research published Friday by the Student Borrower Protection Center, a student loan borrower advocacy organization, aims to provide a window into these debts and the challenges they pose to students.
“Former federal official Seth Frotman testified in favor of the bill Tuesday in Augusta. Until 2018, he was the student loan ombudsman for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. He stepped down from the Trump administration at that time, saying the bureau had ‘abandoned the very consumers it is tasked by Congress with protecting’ . . . He spoke with Maine Public host Nora Flaherty about what the bill would do, and why he feels it’s needed.”
“A consumer advocacy group accuses Navient of “misleading borrowers” about whether their private student loans can be discharged in bankruptcy. The Student Borrower Protection Center, the group founded by the CFPB’s former top student loan official, Seth Frotman, is making the allegation in a new blog post. . .”
March 11, 2019 | As Feds Ignore Student Debt Crisis, States like MD Step In
“A decade ago, in the throes of the foreclosure crisis, state lawmakers and law enforcement officials took on the mortgage industry and stood up for homeowners’ rights in the face of federal inaction and obstruction. The student debt crisis mirrors the worst aspects of the last crisis, and Maryland lawmakers can follow the same playbook — using state law to protect borrowers and halt abuses.”
February 22, 2019 | The Government’s Trillion-Dollar Student Loan Office Is a Train Wreck
“Seth Frotman, the former student-loan ombudsman at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, tells Rolling Stone that the audit of FSA shows the need for larger reforms of how the government manages student debt. ‘We dropped a trillion dollars of student debt on the backs of American families with no idea how to oversee it,’ Frotman says. ‘This is not just about a failure of leadership; it’s about creating a system that was bound to fail.'”
February 22, 2018 | A Teacher’s Student Loans Were Forgiven. Then FedLoan Wrecked His Credit.
Seth Frotman, executive director of the Student Borrower Protection Center and the former student loan ombudsman at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, said he was not that surprised, given P.H.E.A.A.’s history of problems with credit reporting. He reminded me that P.H.E.A.A. had once asked the Supreme Court to spare it from having to abide by the rules that lenders in the banking industry must follow. ‘These companies are huge furnishers of credit reporting info, which means that the financial future and credit history and the cost of credit for millions of borrowers are tied up in these companies getting it right,’ he said. ‘This is just one example of the numerous ways in which they are failing at this miserably.'”
February 14, 2019 | Student Loan Servicers’ Frequent Mistakes Went Unpunished, Audit Finds
“The report infuriated some consumer advocates like Seth Frotman, a former student loan ombudsman at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau who quit last year after complaining that the Trump administration was protecting lenders at borrowers’ expense. ‘The rampant breakdowns and lack of accountability this shows should be Exhibit A as state legislators and state law enforcement officials demand justice for student loan borrowers,’ he said.”
“The Student Borrower Protection Center (SBPC)—an organization established by former CFPB Student Loan Ombudsman Seth Frotman—recently published an article examining the Department of Education’s oversight of ‘lead generators.’ Lead generators are outside entities that help for-profit colleges manage ‘pre-enrollment activities’ such as ‘recruiting and advising students,’ ‘determining eligibility for federal aid,’ and ‘delivering the Title IV funds.’ The article highlights state and FTC enforcement actions against lead generators and suggests that these entities qualify as third-party servicers under Department of Education regulations.”
January 25, 2019 | Nearly Half of New York’s Young Adults Owe on a Student Loan
“Though the government offers these borrowers opportunities to get out of default, student loan companies and debt collectors often aren’t forthcoming with this information, Denerstein said. To curb this behavior, states need to step in, Frotman says. ‘The state needs to bring to bear all of the tools and all of the resources to stand up for these borrowers as they struggle to make their student loan payments in a really broken student loan system,’ he said.”
“’The enforcement action against ACS is critical because it demonstrates what so many student-loan borrowers, including public servants, are facing when they try to repay their debt,’ said Seth Frotman, the executive director of the Student Loan Borrower Protection Center, an advocacy group. ‘This action demonstrates how countless student-loan borrowers are denied the protections and the benefits that would help alleviate that burden.’”
December 24, 2018 | The Seven Wildest Scandals and Scams of 2018 That Don’t Involve Trump
“In some ways what happened this year was even more maddening: The top federal student loan watchdog quit in disgust at the government’s coddling of shady private interests like Navient. Seth Frotman, who had been an official at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), blasted Mick Mulvaney—the Trump acolyte who was just named interim chief of staff (his third gig, in addition to being the president’s budget director and the acting head of the CFPB)—for failing the public by effectively not doing anything as a regulator.”
“‘For more than a decade, dedicated public servants have paid a heavy price for abuse and mismanagement by the student loan industry,’ said Frotman, who resigned in August from a senior position at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau before joining the nonprofit advocacy group. ‘These failures have ruined student loan borrowers’ lives and can’t be swept under the rug.'”
“Seth Frotman, the executive director of SBPC and the former student loan ombudsman at the CFPB, said his group decided to release the report because they felt the Trump administration ‘is trying to make the struggles of student loan borrowers invisible.'”
December 13, 2018 | Tax Law Professor Argues for Automatic Disability Loan Discharges
“John R. Brooks, a Georgetown Law professor who specializes in tax issues, is pushing back against the Education Department’s reasoning that it can’t automatically cancel the loans of disabled borrowers because of state tax consequences. Brooks said in a blog post this morning at the Student Borrower Protection Center that the department’s refusal to automatically cancel the loans of borrowers who qualify for a discharge based on their ‘total and permanent disability’ is based on a flawed analysis of state tax law.”
December 12, 2018 | Report Roll Call
“The Student Borrower Protection Center is out with a new report analyzing the more than 13,000 complaints by student loan borrowers submitted to the CFPB since September 2017. The group, which was formed by former CFPB student loan ombudsman Seth Frotman and other former bureau staffers, concluded that borrowers “continue to run into rampant, widespread problems with their student loan companies.”
December 11, 2018 | Squelched Report Shows Wells Fargo Charged High Account Fees to Student
“Seth Frotman, the former student loan ombudsman at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, had accused agency heads of burying the report when he quit in protest earlier this year. ‘When new evidence came to light showing the nation’s largest banks were ripping off students on campuses across the country by saddling them with legally dubious account fees, bureau leadership suppressed the publication of a report prepared by bureau staff,’ Frotman wrote in his resignation letter.”
“Millions of Americans owe money in student loan debt, but under new director Mick Mulvaney, the Consumer Financial Protections Bureau has eliminated programs designed to protect students. Stephanie Ruhle is joined by the Executive Director of the Student Borrower Protection Center, who is looking to change that.”
December 4, 2018 | Student Loan Watchdog Who Resigned from Feds Forms New Nonprofit
“The Student Borrower Protection Center (SBPC), with a startup grant from the Sandler Foundation, will be encouraging lawmakers at the state and city level to strengthen enforcement against the companies that serve the loans, debt collectors, and the for-profit schools that encourage students to take the loans in the first place. SBPC has a distinct advantage in that its founders are insiders—former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) employees who were in charge of student loan oversight.”
December 2, 2018 | Student Loans Watchdog Who Quit under Trump Plans Own Initiative
“Frotman, who was appointed to the federal post under the Obama administration, says he is confident he can persuade Democrats and Republicans to support reforms. ‘The partisan and ideological war this administration has waged on student borrowers has no basis in anything outside the Beltway,’ he said, referring to Washington politics. ‘The student debt crisis does not have any partisan leanings in how it’s harming people.'”
“The goal of Frotman’s new organization is to provide some ammunition in the form of ‘deep subject matter expertise’ to state legislators, attorneys general, nonprofit organizations, legal aid attorneys and others taking on companies preying on borrowers. He also hopes the new group will help advocates highlight the extent to which student debt affects borrowers from many different walks of life.”
November 29, 2018 | Your Former Student Loan Watchdog is Back
“’Tens of millions of American families are trapped in a broken student loan system, squeezed by rising debt and widespread abuses by a predatory industry,’ said Frotman, who serves as SPBC’s Executive Director. ‘The federal government hasn’t just walked away from the fight on behalf of borrowers, it is actually arming the other side. The Student Borrower Protection Center is here to fight back—in state capitals, in Congress, in court, and in communities across the country.’”
November 29, 2018 | Loan Watchdog Starts Group to Fight for Borrowers
“Frotman said the new organization, the Student Borrower Protection Center, will push for state and city leaders to add new consumer protections for borrowers. And he said the group will campaign for California lawmakers specifically to pass a borrower bill of rights.”
Frotman announced Wednesday the creation of his own watchdog group, the Student Borrower Protection Center, which would join with state and local policymakers to protect student loan borrowers, because the federal government had ‘walked away from the fight.'”
November 28, 2018 | Former Fed Watchdog Launches Nonprofit to Help Fix $1.5T Student Debt Crisis
“‘What became abundantly clear at the [CFPB], particularly over the last three years, is that we are in the midst of a student debt crisis,’ Frotman said. ‘There was no desire. There was no effort. There was no plan to help student loan borrowers who were struggling. The only way to continue do this work was to leave the federal government.'”
November 28, 2018 | Former Govt. Student Loan Official Opens New Organization
“Frotman hopes his new organization will be able to step in and help state and local authorities where enforcement at the federal level has been scaled back under President Trump. The organization is partnering with the University of California-Irvine to publish new research on the issue of student loans. For example, five states are currently suing Navient, one of the nation’s largest student loan servicing companies, alleging that the company steered borrowers into higher cost repayment plans. Navient denies those allegations, but an investigation by The Associated Press this month found that the Department of Education, headed by Secretary Betsy DeVos, had evidence that the states’ lawsuits against Navient may have merit and chose to withhold that report from authorities.”
November 28, 2018 | Sen. Eric Lesser Joins Board of New National Student Loan Advocacy Group
“Part of the initiative involves working with states and cities to put in place their own laws to regulate student lenders. The center will also sponsor a class of fellows – attorneys, researchers and advocates – working on student loan issues.”
November 28, 2018 | Former CFPB Officials Team Up to Battle Trump Administration on Student Loans
“The new group, the Student Borrower Protection Center, will push states and large cities to pass laws cracking down on the financial services companies that collect student debt. It will also team up with the University of California, Irvine School of Law to produce research and analysis on student loans intended for policymakers and help consumer advocates build lawsuits.”
November 28, 2018 | Trump Student Loan Official Who Quit in Anger Brings Fight to ‘Quiet Crisis’
“Frotman’s Student Borrower Protection Center, which is based in Washington, won’t have the enforcement power of the CFPB, of course. Instead, it will seek to publicize the cost of debt and delinquency on communities across the country, he said. The nonprofit has established partnerships with the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs, the San Francisco Office of Financial Empowerment and the Attorney General of the District of Columbia, as well as the University of California, Irvine School of Law.”
November 28, 2018 | New Watchdog Group Aims to Spur Action on Student Debt
“’One of the reasons why we are in the midst of a student debt crisis is for years, too many have looked to Washington to solve this problem,’ Frotman said. ‘I think the lessons of the last decade is that Washington has not and will not solve it.’”
November 28, 2018 | A Student Loan Help Center, Created by Critics of Trump’s Enforcement Efforts
“Mr. Frotman and other former bureau employees plan to continue the work they did for the government at a new Washington-based nonprofit announced on Wednesday, the Student Borrower Protection Center. The new venture will focus on aiding borrowers by working with state and local officials, rather than the federal officials who Mr. Frotman said have sought to favor lenders and servicers.”
October 17, 2018 | Why Public Service Loan Forgiveness Is So Unforgiving
“Later that year, in October 2017, after a host of warnings and red flags, the floodgates opened, and the first generation of borrowers to complete 10 years of public service began applying for loan forgiveness. Thousands of them. It has now been a year, and one thing is clear: Frotman was right.”
“As state law enforcement officials and legislators across the political spectrum stand up for student loan borrowers who have been ripped off at every turn, Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos have instead chosen to protect companies engaged in rampant illegal practices,” [Frotman] added. “At stake is the financial future of millions of Americans and a trillion dollar black hole in our financial markets.”
“‘It was important for me to speak out,’ Mr. Frotman wrote in an email. ‘As state law enforcement officials and legislators across the political spectrum stand up for student loan borrowers who have been ripped off at every turn, Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos have instead chosen to protect companies engaged in rampant illegal practices,’ he added. ‘At stake is the financial future of millions of Americans and a trillion dollar black hole in our financial markets.'”