This is the 2nd guest blog post in a series of 10 by Leah Gonzalez, a master's degree student in social work at the University of Texas in Austin.
Steven Graves and Christopher Peterson may not be the most recognizable names in academia, but for the purposes of this blog, they are my new higher-education heroes. Graves is a professor of geography at California State University, and Peterson teaches law at the University of Florida. In 2005, Graves and Peterson published a study in The Ohio State Law Journal titled, "Predatory Lending and the Military: The Law and Geography of 'Payday' Loans in Military Towns."
This study is a thorough evaluation of the military's history and recent relationship with the payday lending industry. Graves and Peterson describe how the well being of the nation's armed forces has traditionally been of high concern for both the federal government and civilians. Out of this concern, Graves and Peterson set out to determine the financial state of military members and their families. The study incorporated both professors' disciplines. They surveyed "20 states, 1,516 counties, 13,253 ZIP codes, nearly 15,000 payday lenders, and 109 military bases" (Graves & Peterson, p. 832).
The study explains how military members and their families historically have been vulnerable due to their age, socioeconomic status, and education level. Graves and Peterson determined through their intense research that payday lenders systematically targeted areas with a high military population. The Graves and Peterson article provides examples of how in the past, the federal government has enforced regulations capping annual percentage rates, but in recent years those standards have been disregarded.
In a move toward heightened accountability, and as the result of various concerns and a study performed by the Department of Defense, the Military Lending Act (MLA) was authorized in 2007. This act serves to protect military members and their families who have been unfairly targeted by payday lenders. The act includes an annual percentage rate cap of 36 percent and a prohibition of refinanced or renewed loans (Center for Responsible Lending, 2010).
Progress has been made in the years since by local and state governments that want to protect their residents from predatory lending. I'll discuss these changes further in another post. Since the implementation of the Military Lending Act, more attention has been given to how these loans affect the general public. States across the U.S. have adopted similar interest rate caps (Fox, 2012). Unfortunately, since payday and auto title lending fees are generally unregulated in Texas, the MLA has been difficult to enforce (Sanchez, 2012).
"Supporting the troops should not be merely an empty slogan" (Graves & Peterson, p. 832). I believe a government should have similar regard for the citizens who sustain the daily functioning of its country.
Graves, S. & Peterson, C. (2005). , Predatory lending and the military: the law and geography of "payday" loans in military towns. The Ohio State Law Journal, 66 (4) p. 653-832.
Center for Responsible Lending. (2010). Summary of the military lending act of 2007. Retrieved from http://www.responsiblelending.org/payday-lending/research-analysis/summary-of-the-military-lending-act.html.
Fox, J. (2012). The military lending act five years later. Consumer Federation of America. http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CFEQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.consumerfed.org%2Fpdfs%2FStudies.MilitaryLendingAct.5.29.12.pdf&ei=wBKzUJXwNKaI2gWUioGoCA&usg=AFQjCNE_ZPvDk9lSYv6fU9dC11iz_hvlZg&sig2=-nVEVHW2uba5YO-S3h0PMQ.
Sanchez, R. (2012). Military families deserve predatory loan reform. San Antonio Express News. Retrieved from http://www.mysanantonio.com/opinion/commentary/article/City-s-residents-military-and-civilian-3854279.php.