Subpriming Massachusetts Students

Why We Need a Strong Consumer Financial Protection Agency

Now more than ever, Massachusetts’s future depends on the educational and economic success of its young people. Yet with tuition skyrocketing and entry-level jobs flat-lining, students in the state are borrowing more and more against their futures to pay for school. A startling 62 percent of Massachusetts graduates last year had student debt, averaging $23,125 per indebted student. While most of that debt is in safe, lower-interest federal loans, a signifi cant amount is in private loans that can carry interest rates of over 18 percent. In fact, last year Massachusetts students graduated with an average of $5,008 in non-federal loans. Th at’s like putting the entire cost of tuition and books for a semester at UMass Dartmouth on a high-interest credit card that students can’t pay off for years. And like credit cards, private loans carry costly penalties and fees and are marketed heavily to students regardless of need, resulting in unnecessary and damaging levels of expensive debt. Unfortunately, unlike with credit cards, there has been no “Credit Card Holder’s Bill of Rights” for student loans to reign in the worst abuses in the private loan market. This absence of basic consumer protections is why Massachusetts students need a new consumer watchdog.

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