The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s student loan ombudsman quit the agency this week. But he is not going quietly.
“After 10 months under your leadership, it has become clear that consumers no longer have a strong, independent consumer bureau on their side,” Seth Frotman, the CFPB’s former assistant director and student loan ombudsman, wrote in a letter to Acting Director Mick Mulvaney that was made public on Aug. 27.
The student loan ombudsman is a position mandated by the Dodd-Frank Act.
“Each year, tens of millions of student loan borrowers struggle to stay afloat,” Frotman added. For many, the CFPB has served as a lifeline, cutting through the red tape, demanding systematic reforms when borrowers are harmed, and serving as the primary financial regulator tasked with holding student loan companies accountable when they break the law.”
“I had hoped to continue this critical work with you and staff and by using your authority to stand up for student loan borrowers trapped in a broken system,” he wrote. “Unfortunately, under your leadership, the bureau has abandoned the very customers it was tasked by Congress with protecting. Instead, you have used the bureau to serve the wishes of the most powerful financial companies in America.”
Specific complaints, as detailed in Frotman’s letter, include that “the Bureau’s new political leadership has repeatedly undercut and undermined career CFPB staff working to secure relief for consumers.”
He also chastised the Bureau’s current deference to the pro-business, pro-lender agenda of the Trump administration.
Specifically, the CFPB accepted a 2017 action by the Education Department without any sort of a fight, Frotman complained. The Department severed an information sharing agreement with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that was intended to protect student loan borrowers. It also announced the termination of two Memorandums of Understanding between the agencies “in connection with oversight of federal student loans and “to ensure coordination in providing assistance to and serving borrowers seeking to resolve complaints related to their private education or federal student loans.”