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Senator Hassan Discusses Importance of Holding Predatory For-Profit Colleges Accountable with Education Department Nominee

American Rescue Plan Included Hassan Provision to Close Loophole For-Profit Colleges Use to Exploit Veterans

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan discussed the importance of holding for-profit colleges accountable with President Biden’s nominee for Undersecretary of Education, James Kvaal, during a Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing yesterday. The Senator also spoke about her bipartisan efforts to encourage innovation in higher education and support adult learners.


To watch the Senator’s questioning, click here.


Holding For-Profit Colleges Accountable


“I am pleased that the American Rescue Plan, that the President signed into law last month, included a provision from the PROTECT Students Act to help stop for-profit colleges from taking advantage of veterans and service members,” said Senator Hassan. “But there is still much work to be done. For example, the PROTECT Students Act would also strengthen enforcement when students are defrauded and improve oversight of the process used by for-profit colleges that seek to convert to non-profit status.”


Kvaal expressed support for Senator Hassan’s PROTECT Students Act: “That legislation I think is a really important list of things that Congress could do to ensure that students aren’t left with debts they can’t afford to repay and that colleges aren’t allowed to shift the cost of illegal conduct onto students.”


Encouraging Innovation in Higher Education


Senator Hassan also discussed ways to support innovation in higher education to meet the needs of modern college students.  


“We also have to think hard about the situation that today’s college students are in. They have numerous demands on their time, and they often struggle to actually complete their academic programs,” said Senator Hassan.


The Senator went on to discuss two pieces of legislation that she introduced to help support innovations in higher education. The bipartisan Innovations Zone Act, which she reintroduced in March, would help strengthen an initiative under the Higher Education Act that colleges, including Southern New Hampshire University, have used to create pilot programs that can improve student outcomes and prepare them for the workforce. Senator Hassan also introduced a bill to support competency-based education, which provides students with pathways to degrees through the mastery of relevant skills, rather than through the traditional accumulation of credit hours.


“I think those pieces of legislation address some really important topics. And competency-based education, for example, has the potential to help students complete their degrees faster while saving them money,” said Kvaal. “Unfortunately, our rules of the existing financial aid programs were really written with the traditional model in mind, and there are a lot of hurdles for institutions like Southern New Hampshire who are trying to do things in new and different ways.”


Supporting Adult Learners


Senator Hassan also asked Kvaal about his thoughts on expanding higher education programs to engage workers who have fallen out of the labor force. Senator Hassan recently reintroduced the bipartisan Gateway to Careers Act, which would support career pathways programs where students can earn an income while they’re also completing educational credentials.


In response, Kvaal said that he’s seen many colleges that have had success with strategies that are included in the bipartisan Gateway to Careers Act.