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A numbers game?

Posted in Student Loans

In written testimony for his appearance before the House Financial Services Committee yesterday, CFPB Director Cordray advised that the CFPB has received “thousands of student loan complaints.”  When we sorted the student loan complaints in the CFPB complaint data base, we came up with 5,993 complaints.  That might sound like a lot but it’s worth noting that there were over 38.8 million borrowers with outstanding student loans as of the end of 2012, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.  So we’re talking about roughly 154 complaints for every one million borrowers.

Not only are we unimpressed by the volume of complaints, our review of the complaint database left us a bit perplexed.  We compared the number of complaints mentioned in the second Annual Report of the CFPB Student Loan Ombudsman with the number of complaints shown in the CFPB complaint data base.  According to the Executive Summary in the Report, the CFPB received approximately 3,800 private student loan complaints during the period from
October 1, 2012 through September 30, 2013.  But when we looked at the complaint data base, we could only find 2,813 complaints received by the CFPB during that period.  The CFPB’s website says that complaints are removed if they don’t meet the publication criteria.  But 1,000 complaints?  So we’re wondering, where did we (or the CFPB) go wrong?  Anybody know?