Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced today that his Administration’s newly established Student Protection Unit within the Department of Financial Services (DFS) has launched its website. The website (www.dfs.ny.gov/studentprotection) includes a “Student Lending Resource Center” with tips, advice, and other information to help students make smart, long-term financial choices when financing their educations.
“This new website will make it easier than ever for New Yorkers to make informed choices about paying for college,” Governor Cuomo said. “The Student Protection Unit is the State’s leading advocate for college students and their families, and by launching this website we are empowering New Yorkers with the information they need to properly finance their education and plan for a strong financial future.”
Benjamin M. Lawsky, Superintendent of Financial Services, said “Governor Cuomo established a Student Protection Unit to serve as an aggressive financial watchdog, but students can often be their own, best first line of defense against scammers. Helping educate student consumers about how to make smart financial choices is a vital part of our mission.”
As part of today’s website launch, the Student Protection Unit has created an online “Student Lending Resource Center” with information for students entering college, their parents, and graduates paying their loans. It includes tips about the types of financial aid that are available (including the differences between government and private loans); what to do if you fall behind on your payments or end up in default; how to avoid unnecessary or unfair fees when opening a bank account at school; the tax credits and deductions available for education expenses; and other advice to help New Yorkers navigate the financial decisions surrounding paying for college.
The DFS Student Protection Unit website will serve as ongoing resource for consumers. In the months ahead, the Student Protection Unit will add new, expanded, and updated information about student-related financial services, such as student health insurance and other products.
Governor Cuomo established the DFS Student Protection Unit in January 2014 as part of his Executive Budget to investigate potential consumer protection violations and help provide students with the facts they need to make the financial choices that are best for them.
According to the Federal Reserve (FRBNY), the amount of student loan debt nationwide has more than quadrupled in the last decade. FRBNY data also show that in New York the average student debt per borrower is $27,310 – the third highest of any state. Estimates from the FRBNY and the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau put the total amount of student loan debt outstanding nationwide at approximately $1 trillion.
In January 2014, the Student Protection Unit took its first official action by issuing subpoenas to 13 student debt relief companies as a part of an investigation into concerns about potentially misleading advertising, improper fees, and other consumer protection problems within the industry. This investigation is ongoing.
Any New Yorker who would like to file a complaint with the Cuomo Administration’s Student Protection Unit about a student debt relief company or other potential abuses can contact the Department of Financial Services Consumer Hotline at (212) 480-6400 or (800) 342-3736 for assistance or use the DFS Student Protection Unit website.