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Student Defense and Rep. Katie Porter Call on Department of Education to Overhaul Enforcement Efforts & Protect Disadvantaged Students

WASHINGTON, DC – Student Defense and U.S. Congresswoman Katie Porter today called on the Department of Education to use every tool in its arsenal to improve enforcement against predatory colleges and universities. The statements came alongside the release of a new Student Defense paper, a detailed look at how gaps in the Department’s oversight mechanisms have allowed predatory institutions to evade accountability, contributing to systemic harms to students and communities of color. The paper identifies underused authorities to hold bad actors accountable for breaking the law such as subpoena power and consumer-based enforcement actions, and offers detailed recommendations on how the Department of Education can use its authorities to more effectively prevent future harms. 

“The student debt crisis has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Secretary of Education must utilize all the tools the federal government has to hold predatory actors accountable,” said Congresswoman Porter. “By conducting more initial oversight on institutions and creating necessary safeguards for student loan programs, the Department of Education can protect students from institutions trying to take advantage of those who just want to  further their education. The recommendations included in this report will help the incoming Secretary target oversight and rulemakings to hold institutions accountable and deter bad actors.”

“For four long years we’ve had an administration that put for-profit college interests ahead of students, and students have paid a heavy price. The next Secretary of Education has an historic opportunity to overhaul the Department’s enforcement efforts, to hold predatory institutions accountable,” said Student Defense Vice President and Chief Counsel Dan Zibel. “Without any action by Congress, the Department of Education’s existing authorities can respond to, and deter, the abusive behaviors that have harmed so many students in the past.”

“Protection and the Unseen: Protecting Students and Promoting Accountability Through Underused Authorities in the Higher Education Act” is available here.

The new paper, by Student Defense Vice President Dan Zibel, is part of the 100 Day Docket initiative, which will help the Biden-Harris Administration’s Department of Education take immediate, decisive action to protect students. Student Defense is publishing a series of papers identifying opportunities for the Department of Education to exercise underused authorities in the Higher Education Act to promote equity and foster stronger protections and outcomes for students. Papers so far include how the Department can establish robust accountability metrics to require schools to foster equity, hold executives and owners of predatory colleges personally liable for causing financial losses to students and taxpayers, provide full federal student loan discharges to defrauded students, restructure the Federal Student Aid Enforcement Office, fix the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, and deliver overdue loan relief to over 400,000 disabled borrowers.

Tags   100 Day Docket