Watchdog's New Role at Ed Dept.

The Obama administration looks to a former federal consumer protection official -- and frequent critic -- to help improve the federal student loan program.

January 14, 2016
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Rohit Chopra, a former top Consumer Financial Protection Bureau official who has been critical of the Obama administration’s management of the federal student loan program, will be joining the U.S. Department of Education to work on improving borrower protections and efforts to hold colleges more accountable.

Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell announced Wednesday that Chopra would be focusing on an array of issues related to “enhanced protections for students, improved borrowers' service and strong accountability for institutions.”

“Rohit’s experience in protecting borrowers and his expertise in financial services policy will advance and deepen that work,” Mitchell wrote in an email to department employees.

As an assistant director at the CFPB, Chopra frequently criticized the practices of student loan servicing companies, including those that work for the Education Department collecting federal loans, as well as financial institutions that offer products to students.

He also took on for-profit education companies at the CFPB, which sued ITT Tech and Corinthian Colleges during his tenure.

The consumer bureau also negotiated debt relief for private student loan borrowers as part of the Education Department’s approval of the sale of some Corinthian Colleges campuses to Education Credit Management Corporation.

Senator Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts Democrat who has sparred with the Obama administration over a range of student loan issues, said on Twitter Wednesday that Acting Education Secretary John King “hit a home run by asking Rohit Chopra to help fix our broken student loan system.”

Warren previously pushed for Chopra to be appointed as the top financial regulator in New York. Since leaving the CFPB last summer, Chopra has been affiliated with the think tank Center for American Progress.

Among Chopra’s work at the Education Department will be “assessing the efficacy of metrics used to determine the financial capacity and integrity of institutions of higher education,” Mitchell wrote. The Education Department this week began negotiations over new regulations that may change how the government evaluates the financial health of colleges, including new possible sanctions for struggling colleges that pose a risk to students or taxpayers.

The Education Department did not make Chopra available for an interview on Wednesday.


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