May 24, 2018

Warren Joins Murray, Senators in Denouncing Move by Secretary DeVos to End Investigations and Office Responsible for Protecting Students from Predatory Colleges

Senators urge Department to reverse course by adequately staffing the Student Aid Enforcement Unit’s investigations team and resume investigating fraudulent practices by predatory for-profit colleges

Text of the letter (PDF)

Washington, DC – United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) today joined Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP), and 27 of her colleagues in sending a letter to Secretary Betsy DeVos urging the Department of Education to reverse course on the dismantling of the Student Aid Enforcement Unit’s investigations and to uphold its commitment to hold colleges accountable for misleading, cheating, or defrauding students. As Secretary DeVos continues to hire former for-profit college executives and lobbyists, the Department has abandoned investigations and effectively shut down the office responsible for investigating predatory schools.

“It is critically important that the Department fulfill its mission to protect students in higher education, particularly when they rely on federal student aid,” wrote the Senators. “Unfortunately, it appears that the Department has instead dramatically reduced the staff dedicated to oversight and monitoring and has halted several important investigations and reviews of large for-profit college chains.”

This is the latest step in a pattern of concerning actions by Secretary DeVos to put for-profit colleges and corporations’ bottom lines ahead of students. In addition to hiring for-profit executives, Secretary DeVos has rolled back a number of student protections, despite recommendations from the Department’s independent watchdog, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG).

 All of these actions contradict Secretary DeVos’ commitment last August to maintain strong enforcement and consumer protections for students and borrowers and develop “a stronger approach” to oversight. After Secretary DeVos failed to make her plans public, Senator Murray and her colleagues sent a letter to Secretary DeVos inquiring how she intended to maintain strong, federal enforcement of student protections in December.

In addition to Warren and Murray, the letter was signed by U.S. Senators Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

Senator Warren's oversight effort, DeVos Watch, has been tracking the series of steps taken by Secretary DeVos and the Department that violate conflicts of interest and undermine protections for students and taxpayers.