CFPB Finalizes Advisory Opinion Pilot Program, Issues Advisory Opinions

The CFPB today finalized an advisory opinion pilot program that allows entities seeking to comply with existing regulations to request an advisory opinion from the bureau to address areas of uncertainty. The bureau’s final policy allows any person or entity to email [email protected] to request an advisory opinion.

The CFPB said it will review submissions, prioritize requests for response and issue opinions with a description of the incoming request. The advisory opinions will be published in the Federal Register and are considered binding interpretive rules that banks and other institutions may rely on.

The bureau said it will prioritize open questions within its purview that can legally be addressed through an interpretive rule and added it “intends to further evaluate potential topics for advisory opinions based on additional factors, including: alignment with the bureau’s statutory objectives; size of the benefit offered to consumers by resolution of the interpretive issue; known impact on the actions of other regulators; and impact on available bureau resources.”

The CFPB today also issued advisory opinions on earned wage access products and on student loans as part of its advisory opinion program.

The bureau had been asked whether EWA providers that address short-term liquidity needs that arise between paychecks are offering or extending “credit.” The opinion clarified that “a Covered EWA Program does not involve the offering or extension of ‘credit.’”

The CFPB also issued an advisory opinion clarifying that certain education loan products that refinance or consolidate a consumer’s preexisting federal, or federal and private, education loans meet the definition of “private education loan” in Truth in Lending Act and Regulation Z and are subject to the disclosure and other requirements in subpart F of Regulation Z.