Chris Arnold

NPR correspondent Chris Arnold is based in Boston. His reports are heard regularly on NPR's award-winning newsmagazines Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition. He joined NPR in 1996 and was based in San Francisco before moving to Boston in 2001.

Most recently, Arnold has been hosting the personal finance episodes of NPR's Life Kit podcasts, which offer listeners actionable tips backed up by behavioral economics research on the best ways to save money, invest for the future, and a range of other topics.

Arnold's reporting often focuses on consumer protection issues. His series of stories "The Trouble with TEACH Grants," that he reported with NPR's Cory Turner, exposed a debacle at the U.S. Department of Education through which public school teachers had grants unfairly converted into large student loan debts — some upwards of $20,000. As a result of the stories, members of Congress demanded reforms and the Education Department overhauled the program and is now giving thousands of teachers their grant money back and erasing their debts.

Arnold was honored with a 2017 George Foster Peabody Award for his coverage of the Wells Fargo banking scandal. His stories sparked a Senate inquiry into the bank's treatment of employees who tried to blow the whistle on the wrongdoing. Arnold also won the National Association of Consumer Advocates Award for Investigative Journalism for a series of stories he reported with ProPublica that exposed improper debt collection practices by non-profit hospitals who were suing thousands of their low-income patients.

Before that, Arnold served as the lead reporter for the NPR series "Your Money and Your Life", which explored personal finance issues. As part of that, he reported on the problem of Wall Street firms charging excessive fees in retirement accounts — fees that siphon billions of dollars annually from Americans trying to save for the future. For this series, Arnold won the 2016 Gerald Loeb Award, which honors work that informs and protects the private investor and the general public.

Following the 2008 financial crisis and collapse of the housing market, Arnold reported on problems within the nation's largest banks that led to the banks improperly foreclosing on thousands of American homeowners. For this work, Arnold earned a 2011 Edward R. Murrow Award for the special series, "The Foreclosure Nightmare." He's also been honored with the Newspaper Guild's 2009 Heywood Broun Award for broadcast journalism. He was also a finalist for the Scripps Howard Foundation's National Journalism Award.

Arnold was chosen for a Nieman Journalism Fellowship at Harvard University during the 2012-2013 academic year. He joined a small group of other journalists from the U.S. and abroad and studied economics, leadership, and the future of journalism in the digital age. Arnold also teaches Radio Journalism as a Lecturer at Yale University and was named a Poynter Fellow by Yale in 2016.

Over his career at NPR, Arnold has covered a range of other subjects — from Katrina recovery in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, to immigrant workers in the fishing industry, to a new kind of table saw that won't cut your fingers off. He traveled to Turin, Italy, for NPR's coverage of the 2006 Winter Olympics. He has also followed the dramatic rise in the numbers of teenagers abusing the powerful and highly addictive painkiller Oxycontin.

In the days and months following the Sept. 11 attacks, Arnold reported from New York and contributed to the NPR coverage that won the Overseas Press Club and the George Foster Peabody Awards. He chronicled the recovery effort at Ground Zero, focusing on members of the Port Authority Police department as they struggled with the deaths of 37 officers — the greatest loss of any police department in U.S. history.

Prior to his move to Boston, Arnold traveled the country for NPR doing feature stories on entrepreneurship. His pieces covered technologists, farmers, and family business owners. He also reported on efforts to kindle entrepreneurship in economically disadvantaged areas ranging from inner-city Los Angeles to the Pine Ridge Indian reservation in South Dakota.

Arnold has worked in public radio since 1993. Before joining NPR, he was a freelance reporter working out of San Francisco's NPR Member Station, KQED.

Updated at 5:28 p.m. ET

Four U.S. senators told the head of the nation's top consumer protection agency Thursday that they want her to launch examinations into serious problems with a program designed to offer loan forgiveness to public service workers.

Starting early last year, the nation's most powerful consumer protection agency sent examiners into companies that run student loan call centers to try to fix a troubled loan forgiveness program. But the Department of Education blocked the bureau from getting the information it needed, NPR has learned.

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program is designed to help firefighters, military service members, nonprofit workers and others. But thousands of people say they were treated unfairly and rejected.

Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno and leaders of the country's indigenous peoples have reached a deal to cancel a disputed austerity package. The move follows nearly two weeks of violent, widespread protests.

The unrest began after Moreno ended government subsidies that have helped keep fuel prices low in Ecuador for some 40 years. The move was part of a broader austerity plan related to $4.2 billion from the International Monetary Fund to prop up Ecuador's government and economy.

A different sort of American dream is under construction outside Denver. More than 130 homes are being framed and nail-gunned together. But there won't be any real estate agents staging open houses. Instead of homeownership, this development is all about home-rentership.

"We got started in around 2010 after the housing crash and people were losing their homes," says Josh Hartmann, the CEO of NexMetro Communities, the company building these homes.

For 24 years, Karen Bradley worked as a nurse at St. Clare's Hospital in Schenectady, N.Y. The pay wasn't great, she says, but it was a good hospital, the place where her father once worked as a pharmacist. Bradley thought that if she stayed she'd have a nice pension for retirement.

"I enjoyed what I did there and believed in the promises that were made about the pension," she says.

But a year ago, Bradley got a letter saying her pension was gone.

"Why is there nothing left? Who screwed up?" she wondered.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has reached an agreement in principle to settle a lawsuit that alleged that MIT, one of the nation's most prestigious universities, hurt workers in its retirement plan by engaging in an improper relationship with the financial firm Fidelity Investments.

At its heart, the new Trump administration plan for the home loan market aims to change the rules for the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The two companies are the bedrock foundation for home mortgages in the U.S.

The government created them decades ago to provide a federally backed guarantee on loans to ensure that money would always be available for responsible, qualified homebuyers to get mortgages. They later became largely private companies but have been under government control since the financial crisis.

Updated Sept. 6 at 2:40 p.m. ET

Ulrik Binzer used to rent out his house north of San Francisco on Airbnb. It was enough money to pay for his family to fly to Denmark to visit relatives. But then his town suddenly banned short-term rentals.

Binzer says there was no debate — it was just an agenda item. "No one knew about it," he says.

It left him wondering: What's going on here?

That's how Binzer became a new sort of sheriff for the digital age.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, one of the nation's most prestigious universities, stands accused of hurting workers in the company's retirement plan by engaging in an improper relationship with the financial firm Fidelity.

A lawsuit headed to trial in September alleges that MIT ignored the advice of its own consultants and allowed Fidelity to pack the university's retirement plan with high-fee investment funds that ended up costing employees tens of millions of dollars. In return, the lawsuit said, MIT leveraged millions of dollars in donations from Fidelity.

Updated at 6:56 p.m. ET

Stocks plunged Wednesday on deepening worries over a slowdown in the global economy.

The Dow closed down 800 points, or about 3%. Investors have been whipsawed in recent days by mixed signals emerging from the Trump administration about tariffs and the escalating trade war with China.

The jitters were exacerbated amid worrisome economic data from two big countries. Germany posted negative growth in the latest quarter, and China's growth in industrial output fell to a 17-year low.

The Trump administration is moving to weaken the civil rights-era Fair Housing Act — making it much harder to bring lawsuits alleging discrimination in housing, according to housing advocates. But conservative groups applaud the move and say it would stop frivolous lawsuits.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Two years ago, hackers hit the credit bureau Equifax and exposed the data of nearly 150 million people. That's more than half the adult population of the United States. Now some of the people affected by that breach stand to be compensated. Equifax will pay up to $700 million in fines and monetary relief to consumers. We're joined by NPR's Chris Arnold, who has been following today's settlement with state and federal regulators.

Hi, Chris.

CHRIS ARNOLD, BYLINE: Hey, Ari.

Updated at 11:25 a.m. ET

Equifax will pay up to $700 million in fines and monetary relief to consumers over a 2017 data breach at the credit reporting bureau that affected nearly 150 million people.

Updated at 1:09 p.m. ET

Debbie Baker thought she qualified for a federal program that helps teachers such as her, as well as nurses, police officers, librarians and others. The Department of Education program forgives their federal student loans if they make their payments for 10 years and work in public service.

For 10 years, Baker, who was a public school teacher in Tulsa, Okla., checked in with loan servicing companies and was told she was on track.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta is defending a plea deal that he oversaw nearly a dozen years ago as a U.S. attorney in Florida.

NOEL KING, HOST:

This story is based on an episode of Life Kit, NPR's family of podcasts to help you navigate life. Listen on Apple Podcasts., subscribe to the newsletter, follow on Twitter.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

The director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says the Trump administration's Education Department is getting in the way of efforts to police the student loan industry. The revelation, in a letter obtained by NPR, comes at the same time that lawsuits allege that widespread wrongdoing by student loan companies is costing some borrowers thousands of dollars.

Nearly 2,300 teachers have just had a mountain of student loan debt lifted off their backs, according to previously unreleased figures from the U.S. Department of Education. The move follows reporting by NPR that exposed a nightmare for public school teachers across the country.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Have you or someone close to you been struggling with medical bills you can't pay. NPR is doing a story about the best strategies for dealing with medical debt for a series on personal finance, and we want to hear your story! We'd also like to know if you found a good solution — for example working with a financial assistance counselor at a hospital or non-profit organization or some other strategy.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Updated at 9:47 a.m. ET Thursday

Jack Bogle, the founder of Vanguard who made investing and retirement affordable for millions, died Wednesday at the age of 89, the company said.

Bogle transformed the way people invest their money when he created the first index mutual fund for individual investors in 1975.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

NPR is doing an ongoing series of stories about the troubled TEACH Grant program.

If you're one of the thousands of teachers who had grants converted to loans even though you were meeting the teaching requirements of the program — we want to hear from you.

There is now a fix underway to help teachers who lost their grants. If you can document that you are meeting or have met the teaching requirements of the program, the Department of Education says it will change your loans back to grants.

For public school teacher Kaitlyn McCollum, even simple acts like washing dishes or taking a shower can fill her with dread.

"It will just hit me like a ton of bricks," McCollum says. " 'Oh my God, I owe all of that money.' And it's, like, a knee-buckling moment of panic all over again."

She and her family recently moved to a much smaller, older house. One big reason for the downsizing: a $24,000 loan that McCollum has been unfairly saddled with because of a paperwork debacle at the U.S. Department of Education.

NPR is doing a series of personal finance stories with some looking at the best ways to make a budget and stick to it.

We want to hear from people who are having trouble managing their spending and need to find a better way, as well as those who think they've found the perfect budgeting system and want to share your tips on what's worked.

NPR is doing a series of personal finance stories, with some focused on the best way to invest for retirement.

Are you wondering if you're paying too much in fees or how to divide up your investments among stocks, bonds and real estate funds? Maybe you're thinking you might need a financial adviser, or are wondering how to find one who will act in your best interest. Or maybe, you're trying to find the best way to actually set aside money to save and invest for the future if money feels tight right now.

Pages