February 06, 2019

Senator Hassan Leads Letter Calling on Department of Education to Reestablish Important Mechanism to Report Fraud and Abuse in Federal Financial Aid Programs

WASHINGTON – Senator Maggie Hassan, a member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pension (HELP) Committee, led a group of her colleagues this week in calling on the Department of Education to reestablish the ability for individuals to anonymously report complaints through the Federal Student Aid’s (FSA) Feedback System that helps students, borrowers, and the public to report allegations of fraud and abuse in federal financial aid programs.

There have been a number of high-profile cases of for-profit higher education institutions, federal student loan servicers, and debt collectors engaging in predatory behavior and misconduct – often leaving borrowers with little recourse but to pursue lawsuits. The FSA Feedback System is critical to ensuring that all entities handling financial aid funds are in compliance with federal law.

“We are deeply concerned that the Department’s changes to the Feedback System make it more difficult to report wrongdoing and make it easier for bad actors to cover up fraud and abuse,” the letter to Education Secretary Betsy Devos said. “In February 2018, the Department unilaterally, and without consulting stakeholders, removed the ability for individuals to anonymously report complaints that could be categorized by FSA as “suspicious activity” on the Feedback System.”

The letter also said, “The Department’s actions have put students and taxpayers at risk at a time when we need more visibility into potential misconduct in the federal financial aid programs—not less. The Department must restore the ability for users to submit complaints anonymously, and to submit information regarding general or systemic problems that are not related to a specific individual.”

The bicameral letter was also signed by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), as well as Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) and Congressman Mark Takano (CA-41).

The letter can be read in full here.

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