OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Melissa Provenzano (D-Tulsa) has filed legislation aimed at protecting students borrowing money to pay for their education.
House Bill 2922, authored by Provenzano, would establish the “Student Borrowers Bill of Rights,” which would be a series of statutory provisions aimed at protecting students from predatory student loan lenders.
“When we talk about student loan debt, we shouldn’t look at it through the lens of the lender and debtor,” Provenzano said. “We should look instead look through the lens of ‘how is this affecting society?’ Right now, student loan debt is hampering our communities by limiting the number of people that have the economic flexibility to achieve. ”
Provenzano hosted a study on student loan debt over the summer. The study showed that the average debt load carried by students is $31,678, totaling over $14.5 billion in outstanding debt with 2.26 billion of that in delinquency. Throughout the United States, student loan delinquency has risen to more than $1.5 trillion.
“There is a reason that presidential candidates continue to talk about the burden of student loan debt,” Provenzano said. “This issue is not going away and it is currently hampering the economic viability of many communities across the country and in Oklahoma.”
There are many factors that have led to this historic amount of delinquent student loan debt. Provenzano’s legislation deals with one of the biggest, which are predatory lending tactics.
“The Borrower’s Bill of Rights would create a fair, common-sense approach to lending that protects potential, current and former students that have had to borrow money to pay for their education,” Provenzano said.
According to the Student Borrower’s Bill of Rights, no student loan lender shall:
Directly or indirectly employ any scheme, device or artifice to defraud or mislead student loan borrowers.
Engage in any unfair or deceptive practice toward any person or misrepresent or omit any material information in connection with the servicing of a student education loan, including, but not limited to, misrepresenting the amount, nature or terms of any fee or payment due or claimed to be due on a student education loan, the terms and conditions of the loan agreement of the borrower’s obligations under the loan.
Obtain property by fraud or misrepresentation.
Misapply student education loan payments to the outstanding balance of a student education loan.
Provide inaccurate information to a credit bureau, thereby harming a student loan borrower’s creditworthiness.
Fail to report both the favorable and unfavorable payment history of the student loan borrower to a nationally recognized consumer credit bureau at least annually if the student loan servicer regularly reports information to a credit bureau.
Refuse to communicate with an authorized representative of the student loan borrower who provides a written authorization signed by the student loan borrower, provided the student loan servicer may adopt procedures reasonably related to verifying that the representative is in fact authorized to act on behalf of the student loan borrower.
Make any false statement or make any omission of a material fact in connection with any information or reports filed with a governmental agency or in connection with any investigation conducted by the Oklahoma Banking Commissioner or another governmental agency.
Fail to inform borrowers of the federal income repayment options before offering forbearance as an option.