Postings

Free community college is the boost the post-COVID-19 economy needs
Coalition members penned a letter to Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Schumer announcing their support for President Biden’s plans for free college tuition. Advocates are urging Congress to act because they recognize that President Biden’s plans for free college tuition are vital to their states’ economic recovery and workforce competitiveness. President Biden’s plans would help nearly 2 million more students go to college, generate $169 billion in additional GDP and strengthen our nation’s recovery from COVID-19.

It’s time for the Department of Education to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse in higher education
Groups wrote a joint letter to the Department of Education (ED) sharing their priorities for its negotiated rulemaking process that aim to protect student loan borrowers and taxpayers from waste, fraud and abuse. Advocates asked the ED to include substantial student and borrower representation among its negotiators, and to strengthen safeguards against predatory practices by for-profit institutions by reinstating strong borrower protection regulations, like the gainful employment and borrower defense rules.

Support closing the 90/10 loophole to protect students during the COVID-19 pandemic
Thirty-six organizations wrote to Senate Majority Leader Schumer and Republican Leader McConnell in support of closing the 90/10 loophole in the American Rescue Plan of 2021. During the "Great Recession" student enrollment at for-profit colleges increased by close to 49 percent, driven in part by aggressive and deceptive recruiting practices. And the cycle - this time driven by COVID-19 - has already started to repeat: for-profit college enrollment has increased from 13 to 15 percent, while public college enrollment, particularly at community colleges, has declined as much as 20 percent. Closing the 90/10 loophole allows for the accounting of all taxpayer dollars that flow to for-profit colleges, and the ability to identify high-risk colleges that are overly dependent on federal subsidies, and that may be financially unstable during the pandemic. The loophole has particular consequences for veterans because it leads to well-documented and disproportionate deceptive and misleading recruiting tactics directed at veterans and servicemembers.

Allies urge CFPB Director not to weaken its enforcement arm
A coalition of more than 80 consumer and civil rights groups urged the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) Director Kathy Kraninger to "abandon" her "October Surprise" proposed reorganization. Instead of strengthening the arm of the CFPB that holds predatory financial institutions accountable, the proposal would drastically weaken its authority, independence, and ultimately, effectiveness, leaving consumers vulnerable and defenseless during an already financially stressful time.

Student advocates urge DeVos to extend loan suspension
Over 70 community, civil rights, consumer, and student advocacy organizations urged U.S. Education Secretary DeVos to extend the suspension of payments on federal student loans through September 2021. The current suspension on federal student loans is set to expire on December 31, 2020. If the Education Department doesn’t extend the current suspension, borrowers will find it harder than ever to make ends meet as they are thrown back into repayment or forced collections while the economy continues to suffer.

ED must stop funding fraudulent and predatory for-profit colleges
Consumer, student and veteran advocates wrote to U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to ask her to withhold federal funding from schools managed by the Center for Excellence in Higher Education after a Colorado state district court judge ruled that numerous schools managed by the organization had lied to prospective students about graduates’ earnings, job placement opportunities and loan repayment options. Advocates noted that the Higher Education Act bars institutions from receiving federal student aid funding if it “has been judicially determined to have committed fraud.”

State-based “bills of rights” needed to protect student loan borrowers
Consumer Action joined a coalition of over 50 organizations in support of a Student Loan Borrower Bill of Rights in Massachusetts. (We also supported a similar effort that recently passed the California legislature.) Even before the current pandemic, student loan borrowers have had to deal with a predatory student loan servicing industry that knowingly misleads borrowers to increase its profits. With the increased financial instability brought by the pandemic, it’s more important than ever that borrowers are informed of their rights and are protected by strong consumer guidelines.

The next COVID-19 relief package should include these critical consumer protections
Millions of people and small businesses in the United States are experiencing tremendous financial distress because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unemployment is skyrocketing and families are struggling to put food on the table. Congress and the administration need to enact broad-based, efficient, and effective relief that goes far beyond the CARES Act to protect people’s homes, cars, bank accounts, income, and benefits so that they can weather this crisis. Consumer Action joined nearly 100 consumer, civil rights, community and other public interest groups weigh in on recommendations for Congress' next stimulus package.

Proposed Senate bill fails to Protect Student Borrowers during pandemic
Consumer Action joined 55 other organizations in submitting a letter to Senate leadership in opposition to the Safely Back to School and Back to Work Act. This proposed legislation falls far short of what young Americans need and should expect from their elected leaders. Rather than extend vital support during a dual public health and economic crisis, this bill would leave millions of student loan borrowers without protections while failing to extend and expand a repayment suspension put in place by the CARES Act. Doing so would only make the burden of student debt heavier, leaving many young Americans financially insecure.

Protect the Pell Grant during and after the COVID-19 crisis
As lawmakers work on providing economic relief to American families amid the COVID-19 crisis and move forward with the FY21 appropriations process, it is critical that they invest in and protect the Pell Grant program - the nation's cornerstone investment in higher education - to ensure students have the funds to pursue postsecondary education during this emergency and in its aftermath.

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