By KEVIN DERBY
Donna Shalala and Rashada Tlaib
U.S. Rep. Donna Shalala, D-Fla., has paired up with U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., in bringing out a bill they insist will help protect federal student aid.
Last week, Shalala, Tlaib and U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., introduced the “Protecting Student Aid Act” (PSA Act), which, they claimed, will “reinvigorate the Student Aid Enforcement Unit within the U.S. Department of Education in order to allow the department to better respond to fraud and abuse within federal student aid programs.”
The proposal would codify the Student Aid Enforcement Unit and help the Education Department crack down on financial aid fraud.
“The bill would ensure proper identification of potential misconduct at institutions of higher education, provide expert legal analysis, support, and advice on borrower defense claims, and prioritize state and federal partnerships in holding bad actors accountable,” Shalala’s office noted.
While she is best known for her eight years as then President Bill Clinton’s secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), Shalala had a long career in higher education, serving as president of Hunter College and the University of Miami. She was also chancellor the University of Wisconsin.
“There are more than 12 million students in this country who rely on federal student aid,” said Shalala. “Under President Obama, the Department of Education created the Student Aid Enforcement Unit to protect federal student aid from wrongdoing at the close to 7,000 institutions who participate in these programs by hiring scores of lawyers and investigators to protect students from being swindled.”
Shalala turned her fire on the Trump administration, including U.S. Education Sec. Betsy DeVos.
“However, since assuming office, Betsy DeVos and the Trump administration have dramatically cut the resources available at the Student Aid Enforcement Unit. The PSA Act would revitalize this important unit and make sure that we can continue holding colleges accountable for misleading and defrauding students,” Shalala said.
“For too long, Secretary DeVos and the Department of Education have allowed the fraud and deception of the for-profit college industry to run rampant,” said Pressley. “This industry has preyed on vulnerable communities leaving students with crushing levels of student debt and low-quality degrees. The PSA Act will strengthen the Federal Student Aid unit to ensure that students are protected, and institutions found cheating students and taxpayers are held accountable.”
“The Department of Education should be vigorously defending students from predatory and deceptive behavior by higher education institutions, but Betsy DeVos has completely failed to hold institutions that defraud and mislead Americans accountable. The PSA Act will recommit the Department of Education to protecting students and ensuring the credibility of our higher education system,” said Tlaib.