RICHMOND (March 16, 2017) - Attorney General Mark R. Herring has joined 20 other state attorneys general and regulators from across the country in calling on the U.S Secretary of Education and Congressional leaders to maintain strong federal protections for taxpayers and for college students who attend for-profit institutions.
In a letter to Secretary of Education Elisabeth "Betsy" DeVos and U.S. Senate and House leadership, Herring and his fellow attorneys general highlight some of the ways for-profit schools have harmed student borrowers and detail their concerns over rolling back federal protections that guard students from some of the worst actors in the for-profit school industry.
"Too many students across the country have taken on thousands in student loans based on promises made by a for-profit school only to find themselves in deep debt with no degree or one that may not lead to a good job like the school promised," said Attorney General Mark Herring. "I am proud to join my fellow attorneys general in urging Secretary DeVos and the Congressional leadership to maintain federal protections for our students and accountability for for-profit schools."
Herring and the attorneys general pointed to a number of protections they believe should remain intact, including the Gainful Employment Rule, which ensures students who attend career training programs will qualify for employment and be able to repay their federal student loans after graduation. Herring is also pushing to keep vigorous federal oversight of agencies and organizations that accredit schools and is promoting the continuation of the Borrower Defense to Repayment Rule, which provides a fair and transparent process for students who have been defrauded by their schools to apply for federal student loan relief.
In part, the letter states:
Over the past fifteen years, millions of students have been defrauded by unscrupulous for-profit post-secondary schools. With accreditors asleep at the wheel, State Attorneys General Offices have stepped in to stop some of the worst abuses. The list of State Attorney General investigations and enforcement actions against for-profit colleges is long, including actions against: American Career Institute; Ashford University/Bridgepoint Education, Inc.; Corinthian Colleges, Inc.; Career Education Corporation; Education Management Corporation; Daymar College; DeVry University; ITT Tech; National College of Kentucky; and Westwood Colleges, among others.
These schools, and others like them, engaged in a variety of deceptive and abusive practices. Some promised prospective students jobs, careers, and further opportunities in education that the schools could not provide. Many schools inflated job placement numbers and/or promised career services resources that did not exist. Many nationally accredited schools promised that their credits would transfer, even though credits from nationally accredited schools often do not transfer to more rigorous regionally accredited schools. Many students were placed in loans that the schools knew from experience their graduates could not pay back. The schools were overseen by accreditors who failed to take action to protect students or the taxpayers who funded their federal student loans, despite ample evidence of these and other problems. In short, the entire for-profit education system was failing students and taxpayers.
As investigations and prosecutions initiated by our offices shed light on these problems, [the Department of Education] began to take steps to remedy these harms, issuing new regulations and reformulating policies to help protect students and taxpayers. Three of these steps - the Gainful Employment Rule, the policy of vigorous federal oversight of accreditors, and the Borrower Defense to Repayment Rule - are essential to protect both consumers and taxpayers from fraudulent actors in the for-profit education sector.
During his term, Attorney General Herring has secured $2.3 million in loan forgiveness for former students of Education Management Corporation and partnered with the U.S. Department of Education to help more than 5,000 qualified Corinthian Colleges students in Virginia receive notice about debt forgiveness after their schools closed.
Joining Herring in sending the letter are attorneys general from Illinois, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia, as well as the Executive Director of the Office of Consumer Protection of Hawaii.
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