New study from Wheaton College explores impact of payday loans in DuPage County


New research by Anna Cole (Wheaton College Class of 2021) and academic advisor Timothy Taylor, Ph.D. was recently published by the Center for Public Justice, a Christian civic education and public policy research organization based in Washington, DC

Cole and Taylor received the Hatfield Award, which honors the late Senator Mark O. Hatfield, a United States Senator from Oregon known for making his Christian faith part of his public policy commitments. The award is made possible through the generous support of the MJ Murdock Charitable Trust and the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The findings and conclusions presented in the Hatfield Prize reports are the sole responsibility of their authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of these foundations.

Cole’s research details the impact of predatory lending on underfunded communities and identifies promising models for responsible lending options in DuPage County. Cole makes recommendations to lawmakers as well as community organizations who, together, supports Cole, can contribute to a healthy financial ecosystem.

Cole completed his research in his freshman year at Wheaton College and will graduate in May 2021 with a degree in International Relations and Music. Taylor is Professor of Politics and International Relations at Wheaton College.

“My hope is to bring attention to feasible alternatives that would close the short-term credit deficit and help solve the fundamental problems that lead to taking out a payday loan,” said Cole. “Continued attention to the issue of predatory lending is essential for policy change to occur, and I hope my research plays a small role in it.”

Taylor guided Cole’s research and appreciated the opportunity to work collaboratively with a student on a research topic that has an impact on the local community.

“I cannot think of a more wonderful experience for a young Christian student than to be given this opportunity,” he said. “If only every Christian undergrad could have the scaffolding and encouragement provided by the Hatfield Prize.”

Katie Thompson, Director of the Shared Justice Program at the Center for Public Justice, highlighted the contribution of Cole and Taylor’s research at the current time.

“The economic impact of COVID-19 on already underfunded communities means more people will turn to payday loans, and there is evidence that shows how harmful these products are to borrowers and communities.” Thompson said. “Cole’s research clearly shows that there is another way, one that prioritizes the well-being of borrowers and contributes to financial stability.”

Cole’s report is available online at

The Hatfield Prize awards funding each year to three student-faculty pairs from institutions of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities to conduct research on policies that impact vulnerable children, families and communities. The Hatfield Prize is made possible through the generous support of the MJ Murdock Charitable Trust and the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Shared Justice is a Center for Public Justice initiative for students and young adults that explore the intersection of faith, politics and public justice. Shared Justice provides young Christian adults with access to mentorship, a learning community, and a platform to practice citizenship.

The Center for Public Justice is an independent, non-partisan organization dedicated 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 office holders respond to God’s call for justice.


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