Skip to main content
About Us

Our Team

Daniel Zibel

Daniel Zibel

Vice President, Chief Counsel & Cofounder

Dan is an experienced attorney and an expert on consumer protection in higher education and the authority of the U.S. Department of Education to oversee schools and other participants in the Federal Student Aid programs. Prior to joining Student Defense, Dan served as the Deputy Assistant General Counsel for Postsecondary Education at the U.S. Department of Education, where he oversaw that office's legal advice and litigation on higher education matters. Dan played a key role in some of the most high profile and impactful efforts to protect students from predatory actors in higher education. He served as the lead legal counsel to the Enforcement Unit at Federal Student Aid and managed a team of attorneys handling matters involving institutions of higher education. Dan also represented the Department on the Obama Administration's Inter-Agency Task Force on For-Profit Education and coordinated extensively with partners at federal and state agencies, including state attorneys general and the U.S. Department of Justice on False Claims Act litigation.

Among many matters at Student Defense, Dan has led the organization's work to ensure that student loan borrowers can access the courts to assert their rights against predatory loan servicing practices.  Dan successfully argued Nelson v. Great Lakes Education Loan Services at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit and Lawson-Ross v. Great Lakes Higher Education Corp., in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, securing reversal of District Court decisions in both cases, and ensuring that borrowers can bring state law causes of action when student loan servicing companies make affirmative misrepresentations to borrowers. The decisions in these cases were heavily relied upon by the Department of Education in reversing its legal position following a change in administrations. He has also led or supervised litigation achieving countless victories for defrauded student loan borrowers and to secure landmark changes to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.

Dan has testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education & Labor Subcommittee of Higher Education and Workforce and on multiple occasions before committees of the Maryland General Assembly. He is often quoted in the national media on higher education issues, including by National Public Radio, the New York Times, the Washington Post,,, Politico, the Associated Press, American Public Media, MarketWatchBusinessInsiderVoice of AmericaUSA TodayHigherEd DiveInside Higher Ed, the Chronicle of Higher Education, among others.

Prior to joining the Department, Dan worked in private practice at two Washington D.C. law firms, where had a national litigation practice. Among his more high profile matters, Dan represented the NAACP of Texas and the NAACP of Austin, Texas in the District Court proceedings in Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District No. 1 v. Holder, defending the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, before that case was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. Dan also successfully represented, in Ford v. Browning, a number of education advocacy organizations challenging the propriety of a Florida ballot initiative designed to allow school vouchers to be used for religious education. Dan has brings extensive experience representing clients under investigation by federal and state law enforcement agencies and taking and testimony in judicial, arbitral, and administrative proceedings.

Dan earned his J.D., cum laude, from the University of Michigan Law School, where he served as an editor of the Michigan Law Review. He also earned the William Allan Lewis Kaufmann Award, given to the author of the best student contribution to the Michigan Law Review. Dan has a B.A. in political science from Haverford College. Dan is admitted to practice in the District of Columbia, the State of Maryland, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (inactive) and numerous federal courts, including the Supreme Court of the United States.