Reps. Lee, DeLauro Fight to Defend Students Against Predatory Loans

July 16, 2019 by Elin Johnson

WASHINGTON – Representatives Susie Lee, D-Nev., and Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., have added their names to the growing list of members of Congress who are pushing bills that tackle predatory student loan practices.

Reps. Lee and DeLauro have introduced a new bill that will protect college students from dangerous practices by higher education institutions and student loan distributors. 

The Preventing Risky Operations from Threatening the Education and Career Trajectories (or PROTECT) Act takes direct aim at misleading and fraudulent practices that leave students with enormous amounts of crippling debt.

Democratic Senators Dick Durbin, of New Hampshire, and Maggie Hassan, of Illinois, introduced companion legislation in the Senate earlier this year.

“All students – especially veteran students – deserve access to quality higher education without having to worry about being taken advantage of by predatory institutions looking to make a quick buck at the students’ expense,” said Representative Lee. “For-profit colleges are collapsing left and right, and our students are saddled with skyrocketing debt and an education that often leaves them no better off then they were before they started.”  

“For too long, for-profit colleges have taken advantage of our nation’s students. Students attending these institutions often face poor employment prospects and staggering debt after they graduate—and that is if they are lucky enough to attend a school that does not close down in the process,” Representative DeLauro said. 

In a statement on the bill, both DeLauro and Lee pointed part of the blame toward the U.S. Education Department under Secretary Betsy DeVos.

“In the absence of action by the Trump Administration, the Department of Education, and Secretary Betsy DeVos, Congress needs to step up and protect students,” said DeLauro.

“Under Secretary DeVos, the Department of Education has rolled back oversight of these institutions, opening our students to even more fraud and misleading practices,” Rep. Lee reiterated.  

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that of the 1,230 college campuses that have closed in the past five years 88 percent are for-profit, which means that 450,000 college students were displaced by their closure. 

Putting this into context, for-profit enrollment makes up one tenth of college enrollment and 85 percent of displaced students. Of those students 70 percent were low income students receiving Pell Grants, and 57 percent were racial minorities (particularly black and latino). 

For-profit colleges market more toward nontraditional students, which includes low-income, single parent, and minority and female students.

For-profit college students also account for half of the loan defaults. Students at for-profit colleges also tend to have more debt than those at nonprofit colleges.

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