Insider NJ

New Jersey Citizen Action Education Fund Holds 10th Annual Financial Reform Summit

Insider NJ — October 4, 2019

NEWARK, NJ — New Jersey Citizen Action Education Fund (NJCAEF) today brought together more than 200 community leaders, advocates, students, elected officials, financial institutions, small business owners and other stakeholder its tenth annual Financial Reform Summit. The Summit addressed economic justice issues including student debt, financial technology and other consumer financial protection issues affecting students, seniors, immigrants, small business owners, veterans and working families.

"The amount of debt New Jerseyans have today is reaching the dangerous levels we saw a decade ago in the wake of the subprime mortgage crisis," said Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, NJCAEF's Executive Director. "Students, parents and grandparents owe $43.2 billion in student debt alone in our state, more than credit card debt and second only to mortgage debt. Financial technology, or 'FinTech,' adds an entirely new dimension of risks to the question of how we accumulate, manage, and eliminate debt. Now more than ever, consumer protections and oversight require reforms that reflect the new landscape of lending and debt."

A summit panel explored how debt traps such as medical and student debt, illegal payday and other high interest rate loans, credit reporting abuses and the business of debt collection had a disproportionate impact on communities of color. Speakers also delved into the conveniences, opportunities, risks and potential harm in our growing dependency on financial technology in the digital and information age.

Finally, the conference heard from state and national leaders who are developing and advocating for policies to end the student debt crisis and to eliminate the traps that lock students and their families into insurmountable debt as they pursue higher education. New Jersey passed a landmark law earlier this year designed to protect student loan borrowers from abusive and deceptive practices by loan servicers, but advocates note that more must be done.

"Student loan debt has reached a crisis point, here in New Jersey and throughout the country," said New Jersey Citizen Action Financial Justice Organizer Beverly Brown Ruggia. "The federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under this administration is failing in its duty to protect loan borrowers. For this reason New Jersey must continue to explore policy and legislation that will help end this crisis."

"The US Department of Education runs the fifth largest bank in the country, and that bank has been effectively unregulated for years," said Alyssa Picard, Director of Higher Education, national American Federation of Teachers "Until higher education is free and outstanding student loan debt is cancelled, we'll be fighting on every front to help people navigate this broken system, to change the law for future generations of student loan borrowers, and to hold bad actors to account for the damage they cause to working people's lives and hopes for the future."

The New Jersey Citizen Action Education Fund is a non-profit, tax exempt 501(c)(3) organization founded in 1983 to empower low- and moderate-income people through research, education and training on public policy issues important to working families and seniors, direct counseling and services.

Top Top | NJCA Homepage | NJCA in the News