Urge House Members Not to Turn a Blind Eye to Waste, Fraud and Abuse

The U.S. House of Representatives may vote on legislation (HR 2637) this fall that would repeal rules protecting students, including veterans, from waste, fraud, and abuse, and tie the Education Secretary’s hands while leaving taxpayers holding the check. 

Join organizations that work on behalf of students, veterans, consumers, civil rights and college access and affordability in urging your member of Congress to vote against this legislation.

The bill would  weaken the current ban — which Congress passed more than 20 years ago with strong bipartisan support — on any college paying bonuses to recruiters based on boosting student enrollment or financial aid. Regulatory loopholes in the ban allowed some colleges to continue to abuse the system with high-pressure tactics to enroll students, including using lies, deception, pain and fear. Those loopholes were closed in 2011, and the last thing Congress should do is put students and taxpayers at risk again from this fraud.

Incredibly, the bill also blocks any regulations to enforce the law requiring career education programs receiving federal student aid to prepare students for “gainful employment.” Career education programs deserve closer scrutiny, not less. Some for-profit colleges are receiving close to 90% or more of their funds from federal taxpayers and at the same time are being investigated by more than 32 state attorneys general, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. This is certainly not the time for Congress to muzzle regulators from doing their jobs to protect the public.

There is no rationale for blocking rules to ensure taxpayer dollars are wisely spent or for creating new loopholes for aggressive and misleading recruitment tactics. We need to cut wasteful spending, not subsidize Wall Street corporations that routinely leave students and families buried in debts they cannot repay — and leave taxpayers holding the bag.
 

Message

As your constituent, I strongly urge you to oppose the “Supporting Academic Freedom through Regulatory Relief Act” (H.R. 2637), which is expected to be voted on by the U.S. House of Representatives in September.  

The measure would create loopholes in the statutory ban on colleges providing “incentive compensation” to enroll students, legislation that was enacted more than 20 years ago with broad bipartisan support. Despite those rules, some schools continued to engage in well-documented recruitment tactics involving lies, deception, pain, and fear to pressure students to enroll.  The regulations were tightened in 2011, and Congress should not reopen them and put students, including many veterans, and taxpayers at risk.

H.R. 2637 also would require regulators to turn a blind eye to how billions of dollars in taxpayer-funded student aid are being abused by repealing regulations and blocking any new rules enforcing the statutory requirement that career education programs receiving federal student aid prepare students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation.  Meanwhile, some for-profit colleges are receiving close to 90% or more of their funds from federal taxpayers and are being investigated by more than 32 state attorneys general, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Congress should not tie the Education Department’s hands and create new loopholes for rouge schools with past history of abuse. 

The measure benefits schools at the expense of students, even repealing the requirement that career education programs disclose basic consumer information, such as tuition and fees, debt levels, and completion and job placement rates.  

With scarce resources and a tight budget, there is no rationale for blocking rules designed to protect taxpayers and prevent financial aid fraud. We need to be cutting wasteful spending, not subsidizing Wall Street corporations that routinely force students and families buried in debts they cannot repay—and leave taxpayers holding the bag.

I therefore, urge you to oppose this legislation. Thank you for your attention to this matter.