Brown demands protection for students

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) Thursday joined 12 Senators in demanding the Department of Education use all available means to help students affected by the 2016 closure of ITT Tech. Many students have accrued financial debts or had difficulty transferring school credits.

ITT Tech’s closure affected more than 3,000 Ohio students across nine campuses: Akron, Columbus, Dayton, Hilliard, Maumee, Norwood, Strongsville, Warrensville Heights and Youngstown.

Yet, under Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ new leadership, the department froze its investigation into ITT Tech’s fraudulent behaviors and even suspended the rules put in place after ITT’s closure to protect students. Brown called this unacceptable, and said DeVos and her department must take swift action to help Ohio students.

“ITT Tech’s unfair and often fraudulent practices left thousands of students with worthless degrees or credits, limited job prospects, and tens of thousands of dollars in loan debt,” Brown said. “We have a responsibility to assist these students who did nothing wrong. The Department of Education needs to step up and use every resource available to protect our students and make sure this never happens again.”

Following ITT Tech’s closure, the Department of Education promulgated new rules under its “borrower defense” authority to help more students receive a discharge of their federal loan debt. However DeVos and her department have suspended those rules and halted an investigation into ITT Tech’s fraudulent statements that misled students. In their letter, the Senators demanded the Department of Education act expeditiously to help ITT Tech borrowers through both its closed school discharge and borrower defense authorities.

The letter to DeVos was signed by Brown, along with U.S. Senators Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Tom Carper (D-DE), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Ed Markey (D-MA), Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-NV), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Patty Murray (D-WA) and Kamala Harris (D-CA).

In 2017, Brown helped pass bipartisan legislation that restored G.I. benefits for veterans who attended ITT Tech and Corinthian Colleges, both of which left veterans with meaningless degrees or without a degree to show for their time when they failed.

Recently, Brown joined 10 Senators in demanding DeVos answer questions as to why a former high-powered lobbyist and consultant for the for-profit college industry, Diane Auer Jones, now has a senior advisor role in the Department of Education overseeing the exact regulations, administrative matters and high-stakes enforcement actions faced by the same for-profit colleges she previously worked with or represented.