CU Written Testimony to Dept. of Education on Reopening Gainful Employment, Borrower Defense Rules

Consumers Union, the policy and mobilization arm of Consumer Reports, appreciates the opportunity to testify in response to the Department’s plans to convene a negotiated rulemaking committee that will revisit the rules for asserting a defense to repayment of federal education loans, as well as gainful employment standards for career education programs.

We are very troubled by the Department’s decision to reopen these rules, given that they were just recently finalized after painstaking negotiation already and they seek to address well-documented problems with schools receiving federal financial aid dollars that have put students into debt for bad programs.

These two rules work together, informed by years of public evidence and diverse stakeholder engagement, to ensure that students and taxpayers do not bear the financial burden of subsidizing failing higher education programs. They should be vigorously enforced – and even strengthened – to implement the goals of the Higher Education Act. We strongly urge the Department to preserve key protections for students and take steps forward, not back, to prevent fraud and abuse of the federal financial aid system.