February 14, 2019

Senator Warren Joins Senator Hassan in Calling on Department of Education to Reestablish Important Mechanism to Report Fraud and Abuse in Federal Financial Aid Programs

Text of Letter (PDF) 

Washington, DC – United States Senator Elizabeth Warren joined Senator Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), a fellow member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pension (HELP) Committee, and a group of colleagues in calling on the Department of Education to reestablish the ability for individuals to anonymously report complaints through the Federal Student Aid’s (FSA) Feedback System. The system helps students, borrowers, and the public report allegations of fraud and abuse in federal financial aid programs.

There have been a number of high-profile cases of for-profit higher education institutions, federal student loan servicers, and debt collectors engaging in predatory behavior and misconduct – often leaving borrowers with little recourse but to pursue lawsuits. The FSA Feedback System is critical to ensuring that all entities handling financial aid funds are in compliance with federal law.

“We are deeply concerned that the Department’s changes to the Feedback System make it more difficult to report wrongdoing and make it easier for bad actors to cover up fraud and abuse,” the letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said. “In February 2018, the Department unilaterally, and without consulting stakeholders, removed the ability for individuals to anonymously report complaints that could be categorized by FSA as “suspicious activity” on the Feedback System.”

The letter also said, “The Department’s actions have put students and taxpayers at risk at a time when we need more visibility into potential misconduct in the federal financial aid programs—not less. The Department must restore the ability for users to submit complaints anonymously, and to submit information regarding general or systemic problems that are not related to a specific individual.”

The bicameral letter was also signed by Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), and Congressman Mark Takano (CA-41).

Since joining the Senate, Senator Warren has made strong oversight of the U.S. Education Department's student loan program a top priority in order to prevent predatory behavior by for-profit higher education institutions, federal student loan servicers, and debt collectors:

  • May 24, 2018: Warren joined Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and colleagues in denouncing a move by DeVos to end investigations and the office responsible for protecting students from predatory colleges
  • August 3, 2018: Sens. Warren, Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), and colleagues sent a letter to the Education Department asking them to help students harmed by the closing of predatory, for-profit colleges
  • September 13, 2018: Sens. Warren and Murray raised concerns about DeVos' deregulatory higher education agenda that pulls back critical student protections
  • October 10, 2018: Sens. Warren, Durbin, Blumenthal, Warren, and Hassan urged DeVos to take action against the predatory for-profit chain “CEHE”