February 09, 2023

Senator Warren, Rep. Pressley Seek Department of Education Action to Protect Students Defrauded by Bay State College

“The Department should be prepared to act quickly” to protect students if Bay State loses accreditation, the lawmakers wrote.

Text of Letter (PDF)

Washington, D.C. — United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) sent a letter urging Department of Education to protect students and alumni defrauded by Bay State College, a Massachusetts-based for-profit institution, following the college's pending loss of accreditation due to financial and organizational mismanagement. Last month, Senator Warren and Congresswoman Pressley, in order to protect Massachusetts students and taxpayers, led efforts to increase scrutiny of the for-profit college in the wake of ongoing reports of fraud and mismanagement.

“We are writing regarding our concerns over the educational outcomes and financial obligations of current and former students of Bay State College. Amid allegations of fraud by Bay State and rapidly accumulating evidence that the college could not continue operating based on significant financial losses and severely reduced enrollment, the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE or the Commission) announced on January 16 that it will withdraw Bay State College’s accreditation on August 31, 2023,” wrote Sen. Warren and Rep. Pressley. “(We) support this action, which will protect future students in Massachusetts and beyond from what appears to be an unscrupulous and failing for-profit college, and (we) ask that the Department of Education act to protect students who were misled or defrauded by Bay State.”

The lawmakers are urging the Department of Education to respond to questions about how it will use its authority - including its “Borrower Defense” authority to discharge student loans, and its ability to recoup financial losses from top executives at Bay State - to protect current and former students defrauded by Bay State College.  

Senator Warren and Congresswoman Pressley have been outspoken advocates on student debt relief and holding for-profit colleges accountable, including Bay State College: 

  • On January 10, 2023, Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.)  wrote to the New England Commission on Higher Education (NECHE) calling on the accreditor to carefully scrutinize Bay State College’s accreditation in the wake of ongoing reports of fraud and financial mismanagement.
  • On Tuesday, October 25, 2022, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) visited communities across Massachusetts to celebrate the Biden administration’s student debt cancellation plan and help residents sign up for student loan relief. 
  • In October 2022, Senator Warren called on the Department of Education to hold for-profit colleges executives accountable for scamming students out of a quality education and loading them up with student debt.
  • In August 2022, Senator Warren recognized the Department of Education for protecting students and taxpayers by taking action to revoke ACICS status as an accreditor.
  • In March 2022, Senator Warren, along with Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and U.S. Representatives Pramila Jaypal (D-Wash.) and Mark Takano (D-Calif.), urged the Department of Education to swiftly discharge the loans of borrowers defrauded by predatory for-profit colleges and universities, including those operated by Corinthian College. 
  • Senator Warren, along with Senators Brown, Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) sent a letter to Maximus, the company that is assuming Navient’s federal student loans servicing contract, questioning its troubling history and seeking assurances that borrowers will receive appropriate services and protections during the transition. 
  • Senator Warren also questioned Jack Remondi, CEO of Navient, on the company's long history of abusive and misleading behavior towards borrowers and their profiting off the broken student loan system.
  • Senator Warren called on the Trump Department of Education to hold student loan servicer, Great Lakes Education Loan Services, Inc., accountable for CARES Act blunder that likely lowered credit scores for millions of borrowers.
  • Senator Warren led her colleagues in for defunct for-profit college, ECA, to stop attempts to collect from former students.
  • Senator Warren sent a letter to the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), the association that coordinates the higher education accreditation process, calling on them to deny recognition to the for-profit college accreditor, Accrediting Council of Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS), at an upcoming review for failing to protect students and taxpayers.
  • Senator Warren demanded answers about the sudden collapse of the massive for-profit college chain Education Corporate of America (ECA) from ECA and ACICS.
  • Senator Warren called on Secretary DeVos to rescind ACICS’ reinstatement citing ECA going out of business and the misrepresented peer support for ACICS.
  • Senator Warren led her colleagues in requesting information regarding the decision to reinstate ACICS as a federally recognized accreditor following misrepresented endorsements.
  • Senator Warren pressed Secretary DeVos about the Department of Education’s decision to restore recognition of ACICS, after ACICS status was revoked in 2016.
  • Senator Warren joined Senators Durbin, Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Brown, and Blumenthal in urging the Department of Education to take steps and protect students and taxpayers in the event that ACICS loses federal recognition.
  • Senator Warren introduced the Accreditation Reform and Enhanced Accountability Act of 2016 to reduce student debt and protect students and taxpayers by reforming higher education accreditation and strengthening the Department of Education’s ability to hold accreditors accountable.
  • Senator Warren urged the Department of Education to carefully consider findings of poor performance by ACICS, a college accreditor that has a long track record of failing to hold schools accountable for wrongdoing, in their decision to renew ACICS’ federal recognition.
  • Senator Warren questioned the President of ACICS and its role as gatekeeper of federal money and oversight over institutions during a Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions hearing.