September 12, 2019

Luján Joins Colleagues to Restore Pell Grant Eligibility for Victims of Predatory, For-Profit Colleges.

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), the U.S. House Assistant Speaker, joined colleagues to introduce the Pell Grant Restoration Act. This critical legislation, introduced by Congresswomen Jahana Hayes (CT-05), Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-05), and Lucy McBath (GA-06), would amend Title IV of the Higher Education Act to restore students’ Pell Grant eligibility for any period of time during which they would have qualified for loan forgiveness due to school closure or institutional fraud or misconduct. A companion measure was introduced in the Senate by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

Under existing federal law, all students are entitled to 12 semesters of Pell Grant eligibility. Students deceived into attending for-profit colleges, who used Pell Grants to do so, now find themselves in the position of trying to attain an actual education without Pell Grant assistance.

This results in a situation where students are stuck with mounds of debt and no means to acquire the education necessary to secure gainful employment.

Rep. Hayes said: “As a Pell Grant recipient, I know just how vital a lifeline it can be in helping students on their path towards a degree. We should be working to help students defrauded by for-profit colleges, not trapping them without a useable degree and no means to pay. One way to do that is to restore Pell Grant eligibility to the victims of predatory for-profit colleges. I thank Senator Warren and all my colleagues for joining me in advocating to fix this deep injustice.”

Assistant Speaker Luján said: “It is despicable that students who attended for-profit colleges risk losing crucial Pell Grant funding if those institutions close due to institutional fraud or misconduct. Students depend on this aid to afford higher education and pursue their goals, and it’s critical that Pell Grant eligibility is restored for these students. I’m proud to co-sponsor this critical legislation that will protect our students.”

Sen. Warren said: “Students who get cheated by a predatory, for-profit college should not lose their Pell Grant eligibility. I’m glad to reintroduce this bill with Representatives Hayes, Scanlon, and McBath because our government should not be punishing students for getting scammed.”

Rep. Scanlon said: “We should not be punishing students who fall victim to fraud and abuse by predatory colleges, or who have the rug pulled out from under them when their school closes. By restoring Pell eligibility for students who otherwise qualify through loan forgiveness because of fraud or closure, we’re ensuring students get a fair shot at attaining a higher education credential. I am proud to co-lead this legislation and commend Rep. Hayes for her leadership in restoring the rights of America’s students.”

Rep. McBath said: “So many of our students work hard every day to earn an education and chase after their dreams. Our children should not be punished and lose their Pell Grant eligibility for the actions of fraudulent colleges. Hard working Americans from every community deserve a fair shot at a college education.” 

Every year, more than $30 billion in Pell Grants is distributed to over 7 million students across the country, providing desperately needed aid for students seeking to afford the skyrocketing cost of higher education. Since the collapse of for-profit giants Corinthian Colleges and ITT Technical Institute, the Department of Education has received over 240,000 applications for Borrower Defense, meaning thousands of students in every state are potentially eligible for Pell Grant restoration.

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