The Department of Education introduced an enforcement unit earlier this week that?will examine?fraud, waste, and abuse inside the higher education system.
During a news conference, acting?Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. discussed the importance of the new unit, saying it will allow the department to act quickly and efficiently concerning illegal actions, reports Lauren Camera for USNews.
Over 50 staff members will initially make up the unit, including both current employees and many new hires. ?Attorney Robert Kaye, who previously spent 14 years with the Federal Trade Commission, will run the system?and will report?to?Jim Runcie, chief operating officer from the Office of Federal Student Aid.
\”It is simply imperative that students dealing with sbstantial financial obligations to help their education not be subject to unlawful enrollment tactics, that they get accurate information – particularly about job placement,\” Kaye said. \”Our office is going to work every day as hard as we can to stop abuses and also to promote the fairness and the integrity of the financial aid process.\”
In all, the self-contained unit is going to be made up of four divisions working with the state and federal authorities in order to uncover misconduct. ?The investigations division will hold the power to subpoena and can work with the department’s program compliance unit concerning reviews on an as-needed basis, reports Danielle Douglas-Gabriel for The Washington Post.
Two divisions already in existence within the department is going to be moved into the enforcement unit, such as the Clery Group, which oversees campus security, in addition to?the Administrative Actions and Appeals Service Group, which handles?terminations, suspensions and resolves school disputes.
A separate group formed many months ago will also be folded into the new division, being created to handle requests produced from former Corinthian Colleges students seeking to have their federal loans forgiven via a process known as borrower defense to repayment. ?The process allows students to request to be forgiven of the federal loans whether they can provide proof the school used illegal or deceptive tactics to influence?students to gain access to money to go to their schools.
The department received a massive amount of claims after Corinthian folded, which resulted in the creation of an independent monitor in charge of streamlining the procedure. ?However, some?argued the new system is complicated and difficult to maneuver. ?Since that time, the department has hired 12 lawyers who\’ll take a closer look at the state laws managing the 8,424 claims received to date. ?To date, 1,312 claims have been approved, along with thousands of others from students who have been affected by Corinthian’s closing. ?The resolved cases add up to around $113.6 million in federal student education loans.
Education Undersecretary Ted Mitchell said that while the department has been focusing on enforcement, the brand new unit will allow investigations and enforcement to become carried out quicker, reports Halimah Abdullah for NBC News.
Recent weeks have experienced the department pull federal financial aid funds from Marinello School of Beauty after receiving allegations that they falsified records, leading to the shut-down from the entire chain. Marinello has refused to confess that the allegations held any truth.
The department has threatened to cut DeVry University’s access to federal loans and grants when the school does not agree to stop airing advertisements concerning employment outcomes after graduation and also to notify students that it cannot support the claims the company has?made.
Despite concerns expressed by Neal McCluskey, director of the Center for Educational Freedom at the Cato Institute, the unit will focus an excessive amount of on for-profit institutions, King responded by saying the unit is meant to cover the higher education sector in general. ?He said, “We\’ll follow the evidence on who\’s doing the wrong thing and move ahead from there.\”