Today the National Consumer Law Center and the ACLU’s Racial Justice Program filed a lawsuit against the Department of Education seeking the release of student loan debt collection information and race data. We sent a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in May 2015, requesting that the Department release documents both about its debt collection policies and practices (including those of the private debt collection agencies it contracts with), as well as any analysis or data it has on racial disparities. Despite numerous studies showing racial disparities in student debt, the Office of Federal Student Aid says it has no protocols for examining collections by race. Further, in lieu of disclosing requested information concerning the practices and oversight of its private collection agencies, the Department provided heavily redacted materials. You can find more information about the lawsuit here.
NCLC settled a FOIA lawsuit against the Department last year after requesting documents related to the financial incentives and oversight of the 22 private collection agencies that collect federal student loans.