The state Department of Financial Services’ newly established Student Protection Unit has launched a website with tips, advice and other information for students and families financing college education. Complaints about student-related financial products and services can be filed on the website.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo created the Student Protection Unit in January as part of his executive budget proposal to investigate potential consumer protection violations and help give students information they need to make the best financial choices.
“This new website will make it easier than ever for New Yorkers to make informed choices about paying for college,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. “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.”
The Student Protection Unit has created a “Student Lending Resource Center” on the website with information for students entering college, their parents and graduates paying loans. It includes information on the types of financial aid; what to do if you fall behind on payments or end up in default; how to avoid unnecessary or unfair fees when opening a bank account at school; tax credits and deductions for education expenses; and other advice.
“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,” Benjamin M. Lawsky, superintendent of financial services, said in a statement.
The unit’s first official action in January was 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.
The amount of student loan debt nationwide has more than quadrupled in the last decade, and the average student debt per borrower in New York is $27,310 — the third highest of any state, according to the Federal Reserve.
To file a complaint about a student debt relief company or other potential abuses, contact the Department of Financial Services Consumer Hotline at 212-480-6400 or 800-342-3736 or use the Student Protection Unit website.