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Ex-consumer watchdog tapped to manage federal student aid

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A former federal consumer watchdog and Democratic nominee for Ohio governor has landed his next job.

The U.S. Department of Education announced Monday that Richard Cordray has been selected as its chief operating officer of federal student aid.

Cordray, 62, previously served as Ohio treasurer and attorney general and as the first head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under Democratic President Barack Obama and, briefly, Republican President Donald Trump.

Cordray stepped down from his watchdog role to run for governor in 2018, a race he lost to Republican Gov. Mike DeWine.

In his new role, he will be responsible for managing the student financial assistance programs authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, including grants, work-study and loans for students attending college or career school, the department said in a release.

U.S Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said he was thrilled with the selection of Cordray, whom he credited with "a strong track record as a dedicated public servant who can tackle big challenges and get results."

While Cordray was director, the consumer bureau brought enforcement actions that returned more than $12 billion to 30 million Americans. He also recovered money for retirees, investors and business owners as Ohio’s attorney general.

Cordray’s latest appointment comes amid calls by some advocates for Democratic President Joe Biden to pursue sweeping student loan forgiveness.

In March, Cardona extended the federal government’s pause 0% interest rate and pause on repayment to not only those whose loans are held by the federal government but to 1.1 million borrowers who had defaulted on privately held loans. That included more than 800,000 who were at risk of having their tax refunds seized to repay a defaulted loan.

Julie Carr Smyth, The Associated Press