debt

NPR's weekly education roundup is back after a short hiatus. This edition features a longer list to catch you up on the news you may have missed over the long, hot summer.

1. Student loan ombudsman resigns, and slams the door

Credit Agencies To Ease Up On Medical Debt Reporting

Jul 11, 2017

Millions of Americans have medical debt that's hurting their credit. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau estimated it's as many as 43 million people, according to data released in late 2014.

Now, some relief may be on the way.

Lots of people pay traffic fines, but not everyone is affected the same way. According to a new report from the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, traffic fines in California have an outsize effect on low-income drivers and people of color. And those consequences are not just monetary. Unpaid tickets can result in additional fines. Failure to pay those fines can lead to suspension or loss of license, and even jail time for some if they continue to drive without a license.

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Over the past few years, state lawmakers have increased fees on criminal penalties as a way to increase revenue. But, a new report from OETA finds the overall cost to the tax payer appears to far outweigh the benefits.

KOSU's Michael Cross sat down with Jennifer Reynolds to talk to her about her special report: "Dollars for Dimes."

The special report airs tonight (April 13) at 7:30pm on OETA.

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When riots erupted two years ago in Ferguson, Missouri, some of the tension in the black community was blamed on the city's use of court fines and fees that burdened many low-income people with debts they could not pay.

Since then, Missouri has reduced the maximum fines for traffic tickets and other violations and limited the share of city budgets supported by fees. California and other states also adopted reforms, offering amnesty to some indigent offenders with large debts.

A couple of years ago, University of Chicago professor Harold Pollack did an online video chat with personal finance writer Helaine Olen. The topic was how regular people get steered into bad investments by financial advisers.

A tough new report has concluded that the federal government's system for defending poor people needs to change. The nearly two-year study by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers said judges who are supposed to be neutral arbiters too often put their fingers on the scales.

The report said defense lawyers for the poor who work in the federal court system need more resources to do their jobs. That means money, not just for themselves, but to pay for experts and investigators.

With the Iran nuclear deal all but locked up for President Obama, Congress still faces an uncommonly busy month. Lawmakers return from recess on Tuesday with a government shutdown looming, as well as questions about the United States’ debt limit and the Highway Trust Fund.  NPR’s Domenico Montanaro talks with Here & Now’s Peter O’Dowd about where lawmakers’ priorities lie.

Changing a process that was blamed for fueling anger and frustration with the legal system in Ferguson, Mo., 80 municipal courts in St. Louis County have agreed to set uniform fees and fines to be more fair to people charged with offenses such as speeding.

Critics call the move one step on what they see as a long path of reform. They note that the agreement is voluntary and lacks a formal system of tracking or enforcement.

A new report says an issue highlighted recently in Ferguson, Mo. — that tickets and fines disproportionately burden people of color and the poor, and lead to their incarceration — is not limited to Missouri.

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