June 30, 2020

Senators Hassan, Durbin, Brown, and Warren File Series of NDAA Amendments to Protect Service Members and Veterans from Predatory Higher Education Practices

Senators Highlight Need for Additional Protections in Light of President Trump’s Recent Veto of Bipartisan Measure to Protect Defrauded Student Borrowers

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) filed a series of amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to protect service members and veterans from predatory higher education practices.

 

The Senators’ amendments come as for-profit colleges have seen an uptick in enrollment due to the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, making it more important than ever to hold predatory institutions accountable. The push also follows President Trump's veto of a bipartisan measure that would have overturned the Department of Education’s “borrower defense” rule, a proposal that will effectively deny students who were cheated or defrauded by predatory for-profit colleges of the debt relief that they are entitled to under law.

 

“Veterans and service members have sacrificed bravely in defense of our freedoms, and it is abhorrent that for-profit colleges use deceptive and fraudulent practices to take advantage of American heroes,” said Senator Hassan. “The amendments my colleagues and I have introduced will help hold predatory institutions accountable and ensure that those who have served our country receive the high-quality education that they deserve.”

 

“The for-profit college industry is notorious for preying on our servicemembers and veterans and defrauding them into a lifetime of debt. I’m proud to join my Senate colleagues on these amendments to help stop for-profit colleges from targeting the brave men and women who have served our country,” said Senator Durbin.

 

“Veterans seeking a quality college education and career readiness should not have to navigate aggressive recruitment tactics and deceptive practices by predatory institutions who often fail to provide genuine opportunities for advancement,” said Senator Brown. “We must protect our nation’s heroes by closing the loopholes that allow for-profit education companies to exploit those who have served our country.”

 

"I've spent years fighting back against predatory for-profit colleges and to get students the quality educations and debt relief they deserve," said Senator Warren. "That is why Senators Hassan, Durbin, Brown, and I have filed several amendments to safeguard our student service members and veterans from deceitful higher education practices."

 

All four of the amendments were introduced jointly by Senators Hassan, Durbin, Brown, and Warren.

 

Three of the four amendments were also provisions that were included the PROTECT Students Act, which was introduced by Senators Hassan and Durbin and cosponsored by Senators Brown and Warren. This includes an amendment led by Senator Hassan to reestablish the ability of individuals to anonymously report complaints of fraud and abuse in federal financial aid programs through the Federal Student Aid’s Feedback System. It also includes an amendment led by Senator Brown to stop for-profit colleges from using taxpayer dollars for marketing, advertising, or recruiting. An amendment led by Senator Durbin would close the 90/10 loophole that allows for-profit colleges to receive up to 100 percent of their revenue straight from federal taxpayers by enrolling large numbers of veterans and service members. Senator Durbin also led an amendment – separate from the PROTECT Students Act provisions – to help service members easily access information on whether an institution of higher education is under federal or state investigation. 

 

Last year, the Senators also raised concerns about Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s decision to restore the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools' (ACICS) status as a federally-recognized accreditor, despite reports that the organization has a long track record of failing to hold schools accountable for wrongdoing.

 

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