Superintendent of Financial Services Linda A. Lacewell Announces Formation of Student Debt Advisory Board as Legislation Protecting New York Student Borrowers Takes Effect

Superintendent of Financial Services Linda A. Lacewell Announces Formation of Student Debt Advisory Board as Legislation Protecting New York Student Borrowers Takes Effect

The Advisory Board Will Advise the Superintendent on Furthering DFS’s Mission and Goals as They Relate to Addressing Student Debt in New York State

Diverse Consumer Representatives Are Appointed by the Superintendent for a Three-Year Term

New York − As Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s legislation protecting student loan borrowers takes effect, Superintendent of Financial Services Linda A. Lacewell today announced that the Department of Financial Services (DFS) will create a Student Debt Advisory Board to advise on consumer protection, student financial products or services, and communities that have been significantly impacted by student debt. The board’s members, each appointed by the Superintendent to a three-year term, will serve without compensation.

“DFS is proud to be part of New York’s commitment to protecting New York students and their families, and this newly created board will ensure borrowers are incorporated into every step DFS takes, from community outreach to policy and enforcement,” said Superintendent Lacewell. “This diverse group of experts will be a significant source of market intelligence and expertise as DFS continues to respond to the concerns of student loan borrowers and ensure consumers’ interests are placed first above industry’s statewide.”

The new legislation, which takes effect today, is part of Governor Cuomo’s promise to protect New York’s approximately 2.8 million student borrowers.  The law requires companies that service student loans held by New Yorkers to meet standards consistent with the laws and regulations governing other significant lending products, such as mortgages.

The new advisory board announced today is part of the DFS “Step Up for Students” initiative to safeguard student loan borrowers from discriminatory or predatory practices by student loan servicers. The advisory board will meet quarterly, and this group of experts will be charged with identifying and assessing the impact of emerging practices on consumers and other market participants related to student debt. The board will also provide formal input on consumer engagement, policy development and research.

The following individuals will serve on the Student Debt Advisory Board beginning in 2019:

  • Seth Frotman, Executive Director, Student Borrower Protection Center: Seth Frotman is the nation’s leading expert on the intersection between higher education finance, consumer protection, and public policy. Seth previously served as Assistant Director and Student Loan Ombudsman for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), where he led a government-wide effort to develop consumer-driven policy reforms and protect millions of Americans with student debt.  Seth joined the CFPB as part of the Treasury Implementation Team as Senior Advisor to Holly Petraeus, Assistant Director for Servicemember Affairs. He has also worked on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions and was Deputy Chief of Staff for Rep. Patrick Murphy (Pa.). Prior to his work on federal policy, Seth served as counsel for the New Jersey State Senate, where he worked on state-level consumer protection legislation. Seth’s work on behalf of student loan borrowers has appeared in national print publications and broadcast media, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio, and The Washington Post. Seth received his J.D. from Indiana University School of Law and his bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan.


  • Yan Cao, Fellow, The Century Foundation: Yan Cao is a fellow at The Century Foundation where she works on higher education policy with a focus on expanding opportunity, reducing inequality, and ensuring fair outcomes for students. Yan Cao worked previously as a Skadden Fellow at the Project on Predatory Student Lending at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School, representing students defrauded by for-profit colleges, and as an attorney at South Brooklyn Legal Services, representing low-income families with predatory student loan debt. In addition to serving thousands of students in individual and collective actions, Yan has co-chaired the Student Loan Working Group at New Yorkers for Responsible Lending, and led trainings on the legal rights of student loan borrowers. Yan has researched issues at the intersection of racial justice, economic mobility, and fair lending in work with diverse organizations, including the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the ACLU and NYCLU, and the New York City Commission on Human Rights. A former law clerk to Judge J. Paul Oetken of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and Judge Raymond J. Lohier Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, Yan received her J.D. from NYU Law School, where she was a Root-Tilden-Kern Public Interest Law Scholar and editor-in-chief of the NYU Law Review. Yan is also a graduate of Stanford University and Simon’s Rock College of Bard. She is a product of public education systems in Arizona, Ohio, and Florida, and a beneficiary of many programs providing financial aid in higher education.
  • Evan Denerstein, Senior Staff Attorney, Consumer Rights Project, Mobilization for Justice: Evan Denerstein is a Senior Staff Attorney at Mobilization for Justice’s Consumer Rights Project. The Consumer Rights Project provides advice, counsel, education and representation to low-income individuals on a range of consumer issues, prioritizing direct services to people living on fixed incomes and people with disabilities. In addition to his advocacy on behalf of individual consumers, Evan has been an active member of the statewide coalition New Yorkers for Responsible Lending, focusing his attention on issues that affect student loan borrowers.  Prior to joining Mobilization for Justice, Evan was a staff attorney at The Financial Clinic. Evan received his B.A. from the University of California at Berkeley and his J.D. from Brooklyn Law School.
  • Pam Lanich, Staff Attorney, Western New York Law Center: Pamela Lanich has been a staff attorney at The Western New York Law Center, Inc., a non-profit legal organization in Buffalo, New York, for the past six years, primarily focusing on foreclosure defense. Pamela also assists at WNYLC’s Civil Legal Advice and Resource Office (CLARO) clinics, working with pro se consumer litigants at a walk-in consumer law clinic. In addition, she operates educational workshops for refugees about the small claims court process and how to avoid scams. Pamela is currently a co-chair for the Student Loan Working Group of New Yorkers for Responsible Lending, a statewide coalition of more than 160 non-profit organizations that promotes access to fair and affordable financial services throughout New York State. Pamela is the secretary of the Erie County Fair Housing Board, as well. Pamela is a 2008 J.D. graduate from Michigan State University College of Law, graduating summa cum laude, and a 2011 M.S.W graduate from the University at Buffalo.
  • Chairperson for the University Student Senate, Ex Officio: As the current Chairperson of the City University of New York’s University Student Senate (USS), Haris Khan will represent CUNY in its Ex Officio seat. Haris is a recent graduate of The City College of New York (CCNY), earning a Bachelor of Arts in Politics, Diplomacy, and Law in the CUNY Baccalaureate program. He was unanimously elected the 33rd Chairperson for the University Student Senate (USS) and the only student member of the CUNY Board of Trustees. He also sits on the NYS Higher Education Services Corporation Board of Trustees. Mr. Khan represented the interests of over 500,000 students, furthered the cause of public higher education, and promoted the general welfare of the University.  He previously served as student-body President, Executive Vice President, and Senator at the City College of New York, where he was a member of the Skadden Arps Honors Program in Legal Studies and the Colin Powell Fellowship for Leadership and Public Service. In August of 2017, Mr. Khan graduated from Queensborough Community College (QCC) with an Associate’s Degree in Urban Studies and was honored with the John F. Kennedy Memorial Award for Outstanding College and Community Leadership for his graduating class. Upon graduation, Haris is in the NYC Urban Fellows Program 2019-20 Cohort, where he is placed at the office of the Deputy Mayor for Operations.

As the federal government deregulates and stalls student protections, DFS has been encouraging New York consumers who encounter problems with student loans, including predatory loan practices and high, unscrupulous fees, to contact DFS to file a complaint. Recently, DFS reached a settlement with a national student loan servicer of for-profit schools and announced a new investigation into the student “debt relief” industry for potentially deceptive advertising and improper fee practices. The Department has also been traveling across New York to educate consumers about financing an education and repaying student loans, and has appointed Winston Berkman-Breen as Student Advocate and Director of Consumer Advocacy.


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