CFPB provides update on student loan borrowers
On November 2, the CFPB’s Office of Research released an update showing that student loan borrowers are increasingly likely to struggle to make monthly payments when federal Covid-19 payment suspensions end in January 2023. The findings follow a report issued in April discussing the credit health of student loan borrowers during the pandemic (covered by InfoBytes here). According to the April report, researchers found that borrowers most at risk when payment suspension ends include those who are 30 to 49 years of age and who live in low-income, high-minority census tracts. However, the Bureau pointed out that since the report was released, inflation has risen and delinquencies and balances have increased for consumers across credit products—both of which may contribute to potential payment challenges for borrowers. The Bureau also noted that during this time, payment suspensions were extended through the end of 2022, and President Biden announced a student debt cancellation plan to reduce payment burdens for many borrowers and completely eliminate loans for others (covered by InfoBytes here).
The Bureau’s recent findings examined data from its Consumer Credit Panel (a deidentified sample of credit records from one of the nationwide consumer reporting agencies) on consumers who are expected to resume scheduled loan payments at the end of the suspension. Findings show, among other things, that (i) an increasing number of borrowers are 60 days or more past due on a non-student-loan credit account since mid-2021; (ii) monthly payments across credit products aside from student loans have increased; and (iii) since the April report, delinquencies on non-student-loan products have risen further, with an overall increase in the number of borrowers (5.1 million to 5.5 million) who meet two or more potential risk factors that indicate a borrower may struggle when the payment suspensions end. These risk factors are: “pre-pandemic delinquencies on student loans, pre-pandemic payment assistance on student loans, multiple student loan servicers, delinquencies on other credit products since the start of the pandemic, and new non-medical collections during the pandemic.” The Bureau noted, however, that as many as one-third of borrowers with two or more risk factors may have their balances completely canceled under the student debt cancellation plan, so “despite worsening credit outcomes overall, the cancellation of some student loan debt means that fewer student loan borrowers are likely to be at risk of payment difficulties when federal student loan payments resume in January 2023 than they otherwise would be.”