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CCLE Projects

We would like to introduce you to the diverse and pioneering research crafted by our distinguished faculty fellows as part of the Consumer Research Scholars: Advancing Rights and Access Fellows initiative at the CCLE. Motivated by an unwavering commitment to spearhead inventive research, these scholars have initiated transformative and necessary, issues in consumer rights and access literature and research. Their projects stand as vivid examples of impactful change, contributing to the evolution of consumer-centric policies and reshaping the narrative of access to justice. Echoing our guiding principle, "Pioneer innovative research, creating impactful changes that advance consumer rights," these endeavors not only illuminate the path toward a fairer marketplace but also exemplify the Center's dedication to pushing the boundaries of knowledge in service of consumer advocacy. Immerse yourself in the dynamic landscape of our faculty fellows' original research, witnessing firsthand the profound influence it holds in shaping the future of consumer law and education.

Data Privacy Issues in West Virginia and Beyond: A Comprehensive Overview

As a result of Martin’s research, the CCLE is calling for new data privacy laws that include:


  • treating data as a property right that applies to individual consumers and considering all the actors involved in potentially violating data privacy, including big tech and lesser-known data brokers.

  • making privacy issues easy to understand for consumers so they can make more informed decisions

  • letting consumers have a voice in how the law that will affect them is shaped by convening hearings that are specifically focused on the consumer’s experience.



In both the paper and the article, Martin explores the various legal issues that affect data privacy collection and the different ways that consumers’ data are being used with and without their knowledge. Using a survey and focus groups, Martin and a team of WVU Law students also gathered information on what West Virginians felt were their most pressing data privacy concerns and what they would like to see in regulations.


“The Center commends Professor Martin’s in-depth research and practical recommendations to preserve the personal privacy of West Virginia citizens and agree wholeheartedly that legislation is necessary to protect our citizens from abuse and fraud in this burgeoning area of the law,” said attorney David Romano, chairman and founder of the CCLE.


Jena Martin

Jena Martin
Robert L. Shuman Professor of Law



This white paper was commissioned by the Center for Consumer Law and Education, a joint initiative launched by West Virginia University and Marshall University to “coordinate the development of consumer law, policy, and education research to support and serve consumers.”

As such, this paper has a dual purpose. First, it provides a comprehensive overview of the many different legal issues that affect data privacy concerns (both nationally and in West Virginia). Second, it documents and discusses the result of a survey and specific focus groups that were undertaken throughout the fall of 2019 into January 2020 where individuals within the state provided valuable feedback regarding what they felt were the most pressing data privacy issues and what they would like in a law. These responses (along with the extensive research that was undertaken regarding other statutes, cases and responses across the nation and the world) were used to formulate best practices for legislative recommendations.


Ryan Angus

Applying Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) to an Analysis of Student Loan Documentation and Lender_Borrower Communication Practices

Based on the analysis, this White paper suggests some recommendations to improve the clarity and effectiveness of the PSLF communication with borrowers. Some of the more significant of these recommendations are:

  • Presenting loan eligibility information in a flow chart that allows borrowers to easily check their loan types and actions needed for PSLF.

  • Placing key definitions of terms related to qualifying employers earlier in the form and using plain language that can be understood by most readers.

  • Breaking down the information about qualifying repayment plans into multiple, simple clauses and rearranging them in a more logical way.

  • Providing clear and consistent criteria for counting qualifying payments and allowing borrowers to easily verify and correct any errors in their payment history.


The CCLE hopes that these recommendations will help the PSLF program to better serve the public service workers who deserve loan forgiveness and reduce the frustration and uncertainty they face.


The CCLE also suggests some areas for future study, such as the impact of PSLF communication on borrowers’ decision making and behavior, and the potential use of digital tools to enhance PSLF information delivery and feedback.

"I commend the insightful research conducted by our team, exemplified in the report on the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. The findings underscore the critical impact of language and organization in the Employment Certification Form, coupled with the literacy levels of applicants, on the pervasive confusion among PSLF participants. This research aligns seamlessly with our mission at the CCLE, aiming to pioneer innovative studies that create impactful changes advancing consumer rights. By highlighting the challenges faced by borrowers in navigating the PSLF program, their research contributes significantly to the discourse on consumer education and advocates for clearer, more accessible communication. This work stands as a testament to our commitment to empowering individuals and transforming communities through rigorous research and education," said WVU Director Jonathan Marshall.


Joni Magnusson

Ryan Angus &
Joni Magnusson


Download Paper here

This white paper was commissioned by the Center for Consumer Law and Education, a joint initiative launched by West Virginia University and Marshall University to “coordinate the development of consumer law, policy, and education research to support and serve consumers.”

  • The PSLF program: This is a federal loan forgiveness program for public service employees who meet certain criteria. It has been criticized for its lack of clarity and high rejection rate.

  • The language analysis of the PSLF Employment Certification Form: This is a study that uses Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) to examine the language and grammar of the form that borrowers use to verify their employment eligibility. It identifies four main sources of confusion: large noun groups, semantically rich Circumstances, modality and modulation, and complex referencing.

  • The recommendations for improving communication with PSLF consumers: This is a section that suggests some ways to make the form and the program information more clear and accessible, such as using flow charts, plain language definitions, and electronic features. It also considers the literacy levels and behaviors of the consumers.

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