In one of his last acts as New York State’s attorney general, Andrew Cuomo announced that he was creating a national center to “help students and their families better understand their student loan options.” Cuomo was sworn in as the Empire State’s 56th governor early in the morning on January 1.

According to an article by Kareem Fahim in the New York Times:

Mr. Cuomo said Friday that $13 million in settlements paid by dozens of colleges and lenders in the case would be used to finance a national student loan center, to help young borrowers and their parents navigate the complexities of the college lending process.

The money, which was awarded to the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation and the New York Public Interest Research Group, will be used to operate a 24-hour call center and a Web site and to start a public service campaign.

This comes after Cuomo, as attorney general, began to investigate financial aid practices at colleges in the state. The investigation resulted in new state and federal laws and settlements with 28 schools and almost as many banks, including Columbia University, Citibank, and Sallie Mae.

Higher Education Services Corporation staff may soon be available to answer students’ calls, but the trouble is that creating a call center to help people “navigate the complexities of the college lending process” doesn’t actually fix the problem, which is that the college lending process is too complex.

The average student who takes out loans to attend college in New York now owes $25,739 in student loans. It probably would have been much more helpful if Cuomo had found a way to just give that $13 million back to the students. It was their money. [Image via]

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Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer