About Us

The National Student Legal Defense Network (Student Defense) is a non-partisan, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that works, through litigation and advocacy, to advance students’ rights to educational opportunity and to ensure that higher education provides a launching point for economic mobility.

Student Defense was created in 2017 by former U.S. Department of Education officials who were deeply concerned that federal higher education policies were moving in the wrong direction, especially on the critical issues of student debt and consumer protection. Our focus spans the entire student lifecycle, from recruitment to educational quality to completion to student loan repayment.

We are especially concerned with the lack of accountability in this process. As widely reported, predatory colleges disproportionately target and harm low-income families, communities of color, veterans, and women (especially single mothers). Through litigation and advocacy, we plan to do everything within our power to protect students that have been defrauded by predatory colleges, loan servicers, and others. We believe in enhanced oversight, by state agencies, the federal government, and higher education accreditors. And, where necessary, we will hold these entities accountable for their lack of transparency, oversight failures, and rollbacks of policies designed to protect student and student loan borrowers.

Our Team

We are experts in consumer protection, higher education law and policy, civil rights, and litigation with extensive experience in leadership both inside government (at the U.S. Department of Education and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) and outside government, and in both the private and non-profit sectors.

Our Boards

Meet our Board of Directors and Advisory Board
FROM LEFT TO RIGHT:  Alex Elson, Prof. Wade Henderson, Aaron Ament, Rep. Maxine Waters, Alex Shebanow, Dan Zibel, Former U.S. Sec. of Education John B. King, Jr., Robyn Bitner, Martha Fulford, Jillian Berman. (September 4, 2018, Student Defense Annual Event & Fail State DC Premier, Carnegie Institution for Science, Washington DC.)
FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: Alex Elson, Prof. Wade Henderson, Aaron Ament, Rep. Maxine Waters, Alex Shebanow, Dan Zibel, Former U.S. Sec. of Education John B. King, Jr., Robyn Bitner, Martha Fulford, Jillian Berman. (September 4, 2018, Student Defense Annual Event & Fail State DC Premier, Carnegie Institution for Science, Washington DC.)