We submitted these comments to the Department of Education last week. We will write a number of articles the next few weeks with more details about key proposals.
Our recommendations focus on strengthening relief for borrowers who are harmed by school abuses or who cannot repay due to personal circumstances, such as disability. We also recommend a number of actions to strengthen the safety net and create a fairer collection process. We highlight issues that we believe can be addressed through the regulatory process.
The Department of Education has taken numerous actions these past few years to restore integrity to the financial aid system. These changes should help prevent future students from attending schools that provide them with nothing but insurmountable debt. However, our experience unfortunately has shown that there will always be some schools that try to take advantage of borrowers. In addition, there are countless borrowers who have already been harmed by abusive practices and are subject to the government’s draconian collection powers. The problems are particularly prevalent in the for-profit higher education sector where all too often, schools prey on vulnerable students’ dreams of betterment through education. As a result, the financial assistance that was intended to help these students does little more than bury them in debt.
The efforts to date to rein in abuse have done nothing to provide relief for those harmed by these practices. This should be the focus of this round of rulemaking.
Many others submitted important comments, including The Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS), the Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project (NEDAP), U.S. PIRG, Senator Merkley (focusing on false certification discharges), Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, and Margaret Reiter. All of the comments are available on the government’s regulations web site (Docket ID ED-2011-OPE-0003).