On February 3, the CFPB and the Department of Education (Department) announced a new agreement to share student loan complaint data. (See press releases here and here.) The newly signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is the first information sharing agreement between the agencies since the Department terminated two MOUs in 2017. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the Department cancelled the “Memorandum of Understanding Between the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection and the U.S. Department of Education Concerning the Sharing of Information” and the “Memorandum of Understanding Concerning Supervisory and Oversight Cooperation and Related Information Sharing Between the U.S. Department of Education and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau,” and at the time rebuked the Bureau for overreaching and undermining the Department’s mission to serve students and borrowers.

The new MOU clarifies the roles and responsibilities for each agency and permits the sharing of student loan complaint data analysis and other information and recommendations. Among other responsibilities, the Department will direct complaints related to private loans governed by TILA to the Bureau, and both agencies will discuss complaints regarding federal student loans with program issues that may have an impact on federal consumer financial laws. The agencies will also conduct quarterly meetings to discuss complaint observations and borrower characteristics, as well as complaint resolution information when available. Additionally, the MOU addresses permissible uses and confidentiality of exchanged information and the development of tools for sharing data analytics.

The MOU was released a few days after Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) sent a letter to CFPB Director Kathy Kraninger expressing frustration with the Bureau’s oversight of federal student loan servicers and delay in reestablishing an MOU with the Department that would allow the Bureau to resume examining federal student loan servicers.