The Biden administration is planning to install Richard Cordray, the former director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, as the head of the nation’s $1.6 trillion portfolio of federal student loans, according to several sources familiar with the decision.
The selection of Cordray, who previously was attorney general of Ohio and ran unsuccessfully to be governor, is a major victory for progressives who have been calling on the Biden administration to take more aggressive action on student loans and for-profit colleges.
Cordray is expected to be appointed by Education Secretary Miguel Cardona as the head of the agency’s Office of Federal Student Aid.
The Education Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Cordray did not immediately have a comment on the decision.
Cordray is an ally of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who has been leading the progressive charge to overhaul how the Education Department manages its day-to-day student lending operations, oversees student loan servicing companies and regulates colleges that receive federal student aid.
The student aid office is responsible for managing the nation’s $1.6 trillion portfolio of student debt owed by 45 million Americans.
Cordray’s appointment also significantly elevates the role of an Education Department post that used to be relatively obscure. But it has become a major focus for progressives in recent months. They see it as critical to carrying out the student debt relief they’re demanding as well as tightening regulation of the for-profit education and student loan industries.
The Biden administration has been considering candidates for the job since Mark Brown, a Trump administration holdover, resigned earlier this year under pressure from progressives and labor leaders. Brown, who was appointed by then Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, had a full year remaining on his term.