Family Finances

Solving the Consumer Debt Crisis: An Action Guide for Local Government

February 19, 2019  • Financial Security Program

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Empowering local leaders to take ownership of consumer debt and continue to drive solutions forward

The Aspen Institute’s Expanding Prosperity Impact Collaborative (EPIC) spent 18 months harnessing the knowledge of a wide cross-section of experts working in non-profit, academic, government and industry settings to generate deeply informed analyses of and solutions to the consumer debt issue.

Consumer debt has significant consequences, especially for low- and moderate-income households and other financially vulnerable Americans. The good news is that the consumer debt crisis is also solvable. In building the consumer debt solutions framework, it became clear that many of the solutions to consumer debt could be tackled at the local level.

There are four areas where local government possess tremendous potential to address a critical dimension of household financial insecurity:

  1. Restricted Access to High-Quality Credit
  2. Detrimental Delinquency, Default, and Collections Practices
  3. Government Fines and Fees
  4. Student Loan Burdens

As we at EPIC turn to our next phase of work to support the acceleration of solutions to the consumer debt crisis, we invite leaders across all sectors to reach out to our team and consider us a resource in your own efforts to lift the weight of consumer debt from families, communities, and future generations of Americans.

Local government may use this as a guide for pursuing tailored solutions to help mitigate the effects of consumer debt. While not exhaustive, this list is based on the results of Aspen EPIC’s research, consumer focus groups, notes from public and private events, and the collection of commitments that emerged from our work. For the full solutions framework, please visit