The student loan process can be challenging for young students and their families to navigate. Although there are ample forms and instructions for student loans, not all of these forms are user-friendly, creating confusion and inefficient processes. A 2012 study showed that 65% of borrowers misunderstood or were surprised by aspects of their student loans or the student loan process. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) wanted to better understand student experiences with loan documents and the loan process to increase accessibility to and equitability of higher education opportunities.
FMG 1) held discovery workshops, 2) held focus groups with consumers who had been through the debt collection process to get a better understanding of the kinds of issues consumers may have faced with the process and with notices in the past, 3) conducted three rounds of in-depth interviews and cognitive testing, 4) worked with a form designer to incorporate feedback into multiple versions of the draft forms, and 5) held 50 one-on-one assessments to test user comprehension and the effectiveness of the form.
CFPB gained substantial information about pain points in the loan process as well as concrete recommendations to improve disclosure layout, content, and usability. CFPB used evidence from the FMG study to improve the Payback Playbook, a joint effort between the Department of Education and the Department of Treasury to provide borrowers with a concept-driven plain language approach to borrowing and paying back student loans.
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Vice President, Public Policy Evaluation