- Richard Cordray, former head of the CFPB, is set to become the head of the Office of Federal Student Aid.
- Cordray will be tasked with figuring out how to address the $1.6 trillion of student debt owed by at least 42 million Americans.
- Cordray is a longtime political ally of Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
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The US Department of Education announced that Richard Cordray, the former director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, was selected to head the Office of Federal Student Aid.
“It is critical that students and student loan borrowers can depend on the Department of Education for help paying for college, support in repaying loans, and strong oversight of postsecondary institutions,” US Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a statement. “Cordray has a strong track record as a dedicated public servant who can tackle big challenges and get results.”
The move signals a shift in federal student loan policy, and a potential embrace of loan cancellation policies, Politico points out, as Cordray is a longtime political ally of Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Cordray also served as attorney general of Ohio and unsuccessfully ran for governor of Ohio in 2018.
Of Cordray’s appointment, which she pushed for, Warren said: “I’m very glad he will get to apply his fearlessness and expertise to protecting student loan borrowers and bringing much needed accountability to the federal student loan program.”
The Republican response to the appointment was mixed, Politico pointed out, with some embracing him as a good pick. Others, like Rep. Virginia Foxx of North Carolina, the ranking member on the House Education and Labor Committee, expressed skepticism, in a statement to CNN, that he “has the capability and serious character required to carry out the duties of COO of FSA.”
Cordray, who starts on Tuesday, fills the position after Mark Brown, a pick from the Trump administration with a year left to serve, resigned earlier this year after pressure from progressives.
As the head of the Office of Federal Student Aid, Cordray would be tasked with figuring out how to address the $1.6 trillion of student debt owed by more than 42 million Americans. He would also be charged with figuring out what happens after student debt repayment and interest accrual has been paused for over a year during the pandemic – set to resume in September.
In prior positions, Cordray has pushed the Education Department to reform its student lending systems and has called for more oversight of student loan servicing companies.
The announcement lines up with continued progressive pressure on the Biden administration to cancel student debt.
Cordray is primed to push for regulation of the student loan servicing industry as well as the for-profit university system under Cardona.