PostsecData Members Applaud Proposed Student Loan Servicing Collection
Twelve members of the Postsecondary Data Collaborative (PostsecData) co-signed a letter that applauds the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) proposed Student Loan Servicing Market Monitoring initiative. The initiative will collect information from both private and federal student loan servicers on their loan portfolios and borrower repayment outcomes, including plan type and status. The PostsecData letter outlines how the proposed initiative will identify barriers to successful loan repayment and improve outcomes for all student loan borrowers, especially those at greatest risk of delinquency and default.
The Student Loan Servicing Market Monitoring Initiative will provide valuable information in four key areas:
- Private and federal student loan outcomes. By disaggregating each repayment plan type for completers and non-completers by servicer this initiative will produce data that enable comparisons of how various servicing agencies serve borrowers most at risk for delinquency and default, while also helping to identify borrowers’ barriers to repayment.
- Barriers to enrollment in Income Driven Repayment (IDR) plans. The initiative will provide a comprehensive look at borrowers who have submitted applications to enroll in IDR or recertify their income. The collection will measure approval time from the date the borrower first applied for IDR and will reveal whether each application is “in-process” or incomplete. This data collection will include the number of days required to approve the application, the number of incomplete recertification applications, and the number of applications abandoned prior to submission.
- Deferments and forbearance. The initiative will gather information on the number of borrowers in deferment or forbearance, supporting efforts to prevent borrowers from remaining in one of these non-payment statuses unnecessarily for extended periods of time.
- Servicer support for borrowers. The initiative will include data on both borrower repayment status, like how many students or dollars are in delinquency or default, and consumer assistance, tracking how struggling borrowers are doing and what servicers have done to aid them. For example, the initiative will collect information on communications initiated by both borrowers and servicers, and will track borrower account activity, including submitted payments, repayment plan enrollment changes, recertification of income for IDR, and loan status changes. or.
The Student Loan Servicing Market Monitoring initiative takes important steps to track borrower outcomes and will provide valuable information in improving the student loan system for borrowers. The initiative especially helps low-income students, who are most likely to borrow, as well as students with low incomes after college, who are most likely to face challenges with loan repayment. This proposal is one critical step toward addressing the student debt troubles that plague many Americans. Furthermore, these data will provide servicers with information to help them improve their practices, and ultimately improve repayment outcomes for the borrowers whom they serve.
to read the letter.
Gainful Employment Data Provide Public Value
The Department of Education (ED) recently released the first debt-to-earnings rates for career training programs, a requirement of the Gainful Employment (GE) rule. Under current regulation, data collected under this rule exist for both accountability and transparency purposes. While the GE regulations themselves are a contentious topic on Capitol Hill, greater transparency in higher education can only benefit students, families, and policymakers. Students have a right to know their potential post-college outcomes and to understand how colleges and programs serve students. Policymakers appropriate billions of dollars for higher education financing annually—fiscal responsibility should demand their interest in program-level data, like debt-to-earnings rates, earnings, repayment rates, and cohort default rates.
The recently released GE data include the debt-to-earnings ratio, along with important underlying or contextual data, like mean and median annual earnings and median debt. Because the rate alone may not resonate with students and families, these contextual data points help consumers understand the practical meaning behind the rates, making them useful for someone making a decision about her future in higher education. For example, a potential student is more likely to understand that a program’s graduates typically earn $40,000 after taking out $20,000 in debt than that the program’s debt-to-earnings ratio is 0.50.
These data on student outcomes provide a value to the public, especially for low-income and underserved students, who often begin their college careers with less “college knowledge” than their peers. The addition of these data to the public sphere has the potential to narrow this disparity. Outcome data like earnings and debt-to-income ratios illuminate whether student and government investment in the program yielded acceptable results and can serve to inform choices. The importance of these data in promoting transparency should not be understated, as the results show how career-training programs serve their students. Particularly for the nation’s 21st century student population, outcomes matter.
Exploring College Rankings Measures, 2016 Update
Given that college rankings have continued to grow in quantity and scope, IHEP is releasing an updated comparison of five college rankings. Some publications include multiple rankings lists, focusing on specific categories of schools (i.e., research universities, liberal arts colleges) or specific topics of interest (i.e., greatest value for the money, commitment to access for low-income students). Each set of rankings has a unique audience and uses different criteria and measures to evaluate and compare institutional characteristics and performance.
This updated memo compares the measures and criteria for five college rankings publications:
- Forbes’ “America’s Top Colleges” measures student satisfaction, graduation rates, post-graduate professional and academic success, and student debt.
- Money’s “Best Colleges for Your Money” measures quality of education, affordability, outcomes, and value-added measures.
- U.S. News and World Report’s “Best Colleges” measures undergraduate academic reputation, retention, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources, graduation rate performance, and alumni giving rate.
- Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education’s “Top U.S. Colleges” measure engagement, outcomes, resources, and environment.
- Washington Monthly’s “National Universities” measure social mobility, research, and service.
We plan to update this document as rankings systems make methodological or data element changes, and as new rankings lists emerge. To see the 2014 version of this memo, click here.
to read the full analysis and see how the rankings compare.