Katie Buitrago

Katie Buitrago

Katie contributes to Woodstock’s policy development, outreach, coalition building, and communications efforts. Katie also contributes to Woodstock's research and analysis, including reports on the effect of demographics and institutional characteristics on student debt, disparate impacts of negative equity on Chicago area communities and racial disparities in FHA/VA lending. Interests include student debt reform, impacts of and solutions to the foreclosure crisis, homeownership preservation, community reinvestment, consumer finance, financial reform, and financial security over the life cycle. Her projects include crafting informative and engaging communications strategies for economic security issues, assisting the convening of the Regional Home Ownership Preservation Initiative, and developing ways to make Woodstock's data and research more accessible and interactive.

“I combine data-driven policy analysis and effective communication strategies to advocate for better policy solutions to issues facing low-wealth communities and communities of color,” says Katie.

Prior to joining the Woodstock Institute, Katie gained experience in research and communications as a reporter and intern at Chicago Public Radio and the Chicago Reader.

Katie received her Master of Public Policy from the University of Chicago and received her B.A. with honors in Public Policy Studies and Latin American Studies from the University of Chicago.

Recent posts by Katie Buitrago

Written by Katie Buitrago on July 15, 2015 - 1:12pm

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently asked the public what it can do to improve student loan servicing through a request for information (RFI). Response to the RFI, which closed on Monday, was overwhelming: over 30,000 people and organizations submitted comments. We submitted our own comment letter as well as joined with over 100 organizations from across the country urging the CFPB to improve student loan servicing. Many student loan borrowers told stories about their difficulties repaying their loans, like these borrowers who we profiled in our comment letter about Sallie Mae earlier this month: 

Written by Katie Buitrago on June 10, 2015 - 10:16am

Woodstock Institute has called for the Department of Education to provide debt relief for students of Corinthian Colleges, which recently went out of business after the Department of Education took action against the chain for misrepresenting its programs and failing to comply with federal aid regulations. The Department of Education announced Monday that it would make changes to the program to enable more students who attended Corinthian Colleges to cancel their student loan debts. 

Written by Katie Buitrago on May 21, 2015 - 2:21pm

The Department of Education recently proposed rules that would protect students from excessive fees and other predatory practices on prepaid and debit cards used to receive federal aid funds. The Department estimates that this proposal could protect as many as 9 million college students receiving $25 billion in federal aid. 

Written by Katie Buitrago on April 1, 2015 - 4:15pm

For many college students, selecting a bank account is one of their first experiences with the financial system. With so many options, students may rely on their college for guidance on which bank account would best meet their needs. It’s easy for students to choose the bank that gives out freebies in the dining commons, puts the college logo on bank marketing materials, or can activate an account using their student ID cards. 

Written by Katie Buitrago on February 6, 2015 - 2:11pm

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)’s student loan team, led by Rohit Chopra, won two major victories for student borrowers over the past week. New guidance encouraging private student lenders to make loans more affordable will set up more borrowers to succeed, even when they are un- or underemployed. An agreement that includes significant debt relief for students who received predatory loans from a poorly-performing for-profit college will give thousands of students a fresh start to seek out a better education.

Written by Katie Buitrago on January 26, 2015 - 3:21pm

This post originally appeared on Civic Tech Voices  

At Woodstock Institute, our mission is to advance economic justice, particularly for low-wealth communities and communities of color. To move towards this goal, we prepare data concerning economic justice and empower others to use and understand it. As our national partners at the National Community Reinvestment Coalition say, data drive the movement. 

Written by Katie Buitrago on September 9, 2014 - 4:22pm

When a consumer has a bad experience with a financial institution, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) gives him or her a powerful tool to hold that institution accountable: the consumer complaint system. CFPB is now accepting complaints on a wide variety of financial products and services, including mortgages, student loans, bank accounts, debt collection, and more.

Written by Katie Buitrago on July 21, 2014 - 6:03pm

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is blowing out the candles on its third birthday cake today, and I hope their hard-working staff is taking a moment to celebrate a job well done. They’ve made substantial progress towards their mission of “making financial markets work for American consumers — whether they’re applying for a mortgage, borrowing for college, choosing a credit card, or using any number of other consumer financial products.”

Written by Katie Buitrago on May 28, 2014 - 2:34pm

Westwood College, a for-profit university, attracts students with a promise of a law enforcement career upon graduation.

Written by Katie Buitrago on May 19, 2014 - 2:20pm

Some career education programs promise students a bright future, but many graduates of such schools find that they don’t have the right credentials for their careers—and a shockingly high percentage never graduate at all.

Written by Katie Buitrago on April 8, 2014 - 1:11pm

If you work hard, you should be able to retire with dignity. However, over half of private-sector workers in Illinois don't have access to a retirement savings account at their workplace. This leaves a growing number of seniors unable to make ends meet during retirement.

Written by Katie Buitrago on March 26, 2014 - 12:35pm

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is in the “late stages” of making a rule to regulate payday lenders. It is critical to let them know that the rule should not include loopholes that lenders can exploit to make expensive, unregulated loans.

CFPB press conference
Written by Katie Buitrago on March 10, 2014 - 2:49pm

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) made allegations last week that one of the nation’s largest for-profit colleges, ITT Educational Services, is pushing students into high-cost student loans that are built to fail. This is the CFPB’s first enforcement action against a for-profit college.

Written by Katie Buitrago on February 25, 2014 - 12:41pm
Bad news for consumers: a bill that aims to weaken the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is likely to come up for a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives this week.
Written by Katie Buitrago on December 5, 2013 - 12:00am
Vacant homes are posing obstacles to recovery for communities throughout the Chicago region and beyond.
Written by Katie Buitrago on November 8, 2013 - 10:29am
The Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) recently announced an important new resource for municipalities looking to reduce the negative impacts of vacant residential buildings on their communities.
Written by Katie Buitrago on October 28, 2013 - 3:51pm

In 2011, the federal banking regulators released rules defining a “Qualified Residential Mortgage (QRM).” The definition of a QRM matters to the communities we serve because it will substantially affect how affordable mortgages will be.

Written by Katie Buitrago on October 15, 2013 - 3:21pm

How can organizations from different sectors overcome barriers and collaborate to promote a housing market recovery and revitalize communities?

Written by Katie Buitrago on September 24, 2013 - 12:00am

We have a unique opportunity to tell the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) our concerns at a hearing CFPB will hold in Chicago on October 2.

Written by Katie Buitrago on September 18, 2013 - 12:01pm

Integrated, diverse communities benefit everyone, but segregation and concentrated poverty still plague municipalities across the country. That’s why it continues to be important to have federal rules that require localities that receive federal funding to affirmatively further fair housing goals.