Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway and a bipartisan group of 13 other state attorneys general have sent a letter to U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tom Harkin (D-IA) and U.S. Representative Elijah Cummings (D-MD) expressing support for their legislation that would improve coordination among federal agencies overseeing the for-profit college industry.
“There are some schools within the for-profit college industry that are more interested in getting their hands on federal student loan dollars than in educating students,” Attorney General Conway said. “The unfair and unethical business tactics of those schools are leaving too many students drowning in debt with worthless degrees, while taxpayers are left footing the bill for debts that are never repaid. The for-profit college industry lacks real oversight and accountability at the federal level, and this legislation will help prevent future abuses of the student loan system and keep for-profit schools honest.”
Currently, at least nine different federal agencies have a hand in overseeing the for-profit school industry: the Department of Education; the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; the Department of Justice; the Securities and Exchange Commission; the Department of Defense; the Department of Veterans Affairs; the Federal Trade Commission; the Department of Labor and the Internal Revenue Service. The Propriety Education Oversight Coordination Improvement Act would require representatives from each agency to coordinate efforts and publish a report about for-profit colleges, which would allow Title IV borrowers to make better informed decisions about the school they may want to attend.
Additionally, the bill would require the interagency committee to hold quarterly meetings as a group and annual meetings with state attorneys general to coordinate federal and state activities related to for-profit school oversight. The legislation would also charge the committee with publishing a “For-Profit College Warning List” for parents and students, which would identify schools that have engaged in illegal practices or where there is evidence of widespread abuse - including unethical, fraudulent, and/or predatory recruiting or lending practices.
“This bill will provide the federal government with a mechanism by which to hold for-profit colleges more accountable for accepting billions of dollars in taxpayer money and will not conflict with, nor pre-empt the important work of the States in enforcing state law,” the letter states. “Further, this bill will help prevent Title IV funds from continuing to line the pockets of some for-profit colleges that offer deficient educations in a deceptive manner.”
Attorney General Conway leads a national bipartisan working group of 37 state attorneys general who are reviewing the questionable practices of some for-profit colleges. In Kentucky, Attorney General Conway has filed suit against four proprietary colleges for allegedly misleading students about job placement rates.
In addition to Attorney General Conway, attorneys general from Arkansas, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Tennessee signed the letter supporting passage of the legislation.
A copy of the letter is available here: http://goo.gl/QJCS45 .
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