March 28, 2019

Education Leaders Applaud Hassan-Durbin PROTECT Students Act

WASHINGTON – In case you missed it, Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH), a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, and Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), Democratic Whip, this week introduced the PROTECT Students Act, comprehensive legislation to protect students and taxpayers from predatory higher education practices. The bill will help safeguard students, including servicemembers and veterans, and taxpayers from predatory and anti-student higher education practices and ensure that higher education meets the needs of hard-working students.  

The legislation is endorsed by The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS), Center for American Progress (CAP), Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights, New America Higher Education Initiative, The Center for Responsible Lending, Generation Progress, National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), Third Way, The Education Trust, Young Invincibles, Veterans Education Success (VES), National Consumer Law Center (on behalf of its low-income clients), the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), National Education Association (NEA), The Century Foundation, and National Student Legal Defense Network (NSLDN).

See below for statements from education leaders in support of the PROTECT Students Act:

The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS) President, James Kvaal:

The PROTECT Students Act includes a sweeping set of protections for students and taxpayers against predatory and low-quality colleges. Whether they paid filet mignon prices for hamburger educations or were cheated by predatory colleges, too many students seeking a better life are left with unaffordable debts and no path to the middle class. We commend Senators Hassan and Durbin for introducing this essential legislation to curb waste, fraud, and abuse by unscrupulous schools at student and taxpayer expense.

Center for American Progress Associate Director for Postsecondary Education, Antoinette Flores:

[…] Sweeping new legislation proposed today by Sens. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) wants to ensure that the federal government does its job standing up for students. The PROTECT Students Act, includes a host of changes designed to strengthen basic consumer protections for students—such as codifying key regulations into federal law—while closing loopholes in accountability measures and improving federal oversight of risky schools.

[…] The PROTECT Students Act would help hold colleges accountable and put in place basic consumer protections to ensure that student and taxpayer money is well spent. As Congress negotiates the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, legislators should seek to increase college accountability and ensure quality in higher education. […]

To read the full statement, click here.

The Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights:

Thank you, @SenatorHassan and @SenatorDurbin, for introducing the #PROTECTstudents Act to protect vulnerable student populations from predatory for-profit institutions.

New America Higher Education Initiative:

The #PROTECTstudents Act would ensure career-education programs prepare graduates for well-paying jobs, close a loophole that's caused #4profit colleges to target servicemembers and veterans, and strengthen protections for borrowers. #hea #highered @SenatorHassan @SenatorDurbin

The Center for Responsible Lending Senior Policy Associate, Cheye-Ann Corona:

CRL applauds Sens. Hassan and Durbin for introducing this bill to protect students from predatory, for-profit institutions that grant subpar degrees at high cost, often affecting low-income students the most. With Secretary DeVos and the Trump Administration teaming up to drastically reduce funding for higher education programs and propose tax cuts for for-profit institutions for the upcoming fiscal year, CRL is pleased to see a bill that strengthens the Gainful Employment rule among its many important provisions.

Generation Progress Executive Director, Brent J. Cohen:

Earlier this month, thousands of students were abandoned when Argosy University closed its doors, and in December, Education Corporation of America shuttered multiple schools, leaving students with few options to continue their education. This follows a long pattern of abuse from an industry that is unchecked, underregulated, and directly preying on some of the most marginalized communities. The PROTECT Students Act is a key piece of legislation that would not only bring relief to current students impacted by unfair and shady practices, but also prevent the for-profit college industry from repeating these abuses in the future. The bill would codify Department of Education rules that Secretary DeVos has tried to roll back, like gainful employment and borrower defense; close the GI Bill loophole that allows schools to enrich themselves on the backs of America’s veterans; and boost oversight. In short, the PROTECT Students Act offers commonsense and basic consumer protections for students. We commend Sen. Hassan and Sen. Durbin for offering relief to cheated students and fighting against the abuse and misrepresentation from for-profit colleges. We look forward to Congress debating this bill as a standalone piece of legislation, or as part of the Higher Education Act reauthorization.

National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) CEO, Joyce Smith:

This is an important piece of legislation. For far too long, unscrupulous colleges have preyed on students and taxpayers, at a cost of billions of dollars. These funds could and should be used to help students attend a college that will improve their lives. NACAC urges Congress to include these provisions when it reauthorizes the Higher Education Act.

Third Way Senior Vice President for the Social Policy & Politics Program, Lanae Erickson:

We believe students deserve a return on their investment in higher education, and taxpayers do too for the billions of dollars they spend every year. Too many students who enroll in college never get the degree they seek, leaving them with debt but no degree to show for it. And predatory institutions rake in millions in federal student aid dollars and leave students worse off than they were when they enrolled. Our lack of commitment to quality assurance in higher ed has directly led to school closures like ITT, Corinthian, and now Argosy, which leave students suddenly in a lurch with debt, no degree, and no path forward.

That’s why Congress must step up and pass the PROTECT Students Act. This bill would solidify protections for students and taxpayers, taking a big step in the right direction towards holding institutions and programs accountable for delivering on what they advertise. This package of consumer protection policies would put in place some sorely needed guardrails to ensure that students aren’t defrauded and taxpayers aren’t left footing the bill when an institution fails to do its job.

Young Invincibles Director of Public Policy, Reid Setzer:

YI is supportive of the PROTECT Act. It contains a series of common sense reforms to improve consumer protections for students. As hundreds of thousands of students remain at risk from predatory for-profit colleges, proposals like the PROTECT Act can safeguard students against unscrupulous practices of, and poor quality educations provided by, unethical and ineffective for-profit colleges. We look forward to this proposal gaining support in Congress and being included in any HEA reauthorization proposal.

Veterans Education Success (VES) Vice President, Tanya Ang:

We applaud Senator Hassan for introducing comprehensive legislation called the PROTECT Students Act of 2019 that would address the challenges military-affiliated students face. This bill would strengthen the minimum college quality standards at the Education Department, remove the target from the backs of veterans by predatory colleges, and preserve important student protections. We look forward to working with Congress on a comprehensive bipartisan higher education reauthorization that protects the integrity of federal education benefit programs like the GI Bill and provides a return on investment for taxpayer dollars.

American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President, Randi Weingarten:

I’m so glad that Sen. Hassan and Sen. Durbin have introduced a bill to #PROTECTstudents from predatory for-profit colleges.

The Century Foundation Fellow, Stephanie Hall:

[…] The complicated nature of the Dream Center case has heightened scrutiny on the DeVos administration’s deregulation agenda.  And policymakers are now making good on that scrutiny: today, Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced legislation that will protect students and taxpayers from facing another Argosy or Art Institute debacle.

Hassan and Durbin’s bill, known as the Preventing Risky Operations from Threatening the Education and Career Trajectories (PROTECT) of Students Act of 2019, proposes a bold step toward ensuring that student protections are at the forefront of any new higher education legislation, and chiefly in any comprehensive renewal of the Higher Education Act. The PROTECT Students Act proposes sweeping measures to add key student protections to the existing accountability framework for colleges and universities, with a necessary focus on for-profit colleges. […]

For the full article, click here.

National Student Legal Defense Network (NSLDN) President, Aaron Ament:

We thank Senators Durbin and Hassan for their leadership in bringing these important issues to the forefront. The PROTECT Students Act would be a huge step forward in holding schools accountable and ensuring that students receive the quality educations they deserve. It would help prevent veterans and servicemembers from being targeted by predatory for-profit schools, would ensure that career colleges set up their students for success, and would give student borrowers harmed by fraud and abuse the power to enforce their rights under the Higher Education Act.

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