New Wheaton College study explores payday lending's impact in DuPage County
New research by Anna Cole (Wheaton College Class of 2021) and faculty adviser Timothy Taylor, Ph.D. was published recently by the Center for Public Justice, a Christian civic education and public policy research organization based in Washington, D.C.
Cole and Taylor were recipients of The Hatfield Prize, which honors the late Sen. Mark O. Hatfield, a U.S. Senator from Oregon known for integrating his Christian faith with his public policy commitments. The prize is made possible through the generous support of the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust and the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The findings and conclusions presented in The Hatfield Prize reports are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of these foundations.
Cole's research details the impact of predatory lending on under-resourced communities and identifies promising models for responsible credit options in DuPage County. Cole makes recommendations for lawmakers as well as community-based organizations that, together, Cole argues, can contribute to a healthy financial ecosystem.
Cole completed her research during her junior year at Wheaton College and will graduate in May 2021 with a degree in international relations and music. Taylor is a professor of politics and international relations at Wheaton College.
"My hope is to draw attention to feasible alternatives that would fill the short-term credit gap and help address the root issues that lead to taking out a payday loan," Cole said. "Continued attention to the issue of predatory lending is critical for policy change to occur, and I hope that my research plays a small part in that."
Taylor guided Cole's research and valued the opportunity to work collaboratively with a student on a research topic that impacts the local community.
"I cannot think of a more formidable experience for a young Christian student than to be awarded this opportunity," he said. "If only every Christian undergraduate could have the scaffolding and encouragement provided by the Hatfield Prize."
Katie Thompson, program director of Shared Justice at the Center for Public Justice, emphasized the contribution Cole and Taylor's research makes to the current moment.
"The economic impact of COVID-19 on already under-resourced communities means that more people will turn to payday loans, and there is evidence that demonstrates how harmful these products are for borrowers and communities," Thompson said. "Cole's research makes clear that there is another way -- one that prioritizes borrower well-being and contributes to financial stability."
Cole's report is available online at www.sharedjustice.org/hatfieldprize2020.
The Hatfield Prize awards funding annually to three student-faculty pairs from Council for Christian Colleges and Universities institutions to conduct research on policies that impact vulnerable children, families, and communities. The Hatfield Prize is made possible through the generous support of the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust and the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
Shared Justice is the Center for Public Justice's initiative for college students and young adults exploring the intersection of faith, politics, and public justice. Shared Justice provides Christian young adults with access to mentorship, a learning community, and a platform for practicing citizenship.
The Center for Public Justice is an independent, nonpartisan organization devoted to policy research and civic education. Working outside the familiar categories of right and left, conservative and liberal, we seek to help citizens and public officeholders respond to God's call to do justice.