Postings

State-based “bills of rights” needed to protect student loan borrowers
Consumer Action joined a coalition of over 50 organizations in support of a Student Loan Borrower Bill of Rights in Massachusetts. (We also supported a similar effort that recently passed the California legislature.) Even before the current pandemic, student loan borrowers have had to deal with a predatory student loan servicing industry that knowingly misleads borrowers to increase its profits. With the increased financial instability brought by the pandemic, it’s more important than ever that borrowers are informed of their rights and are protected by strong consumer guidelines.

The next COVID-19 relief package should include these critical consumer protections
Millions of people and small businesses in the United States are experiencing tremendous financial distress because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unemployment is skyrocketing and families are struggling to put food on the table. Congress and the administration need to enact broad-based, efficient, and effective relief that goes far beyond the CARES Act to protect people’s homes, cars, bank accounts, income, and benefits so that they can weather this crisis. Consumer Action joined nearly 100 consumer, civil rights, community and other public interest groups weigh in on recommendations for Congress' next stimulus package.

Proposed Senate bill fails to Protect Student Borrowers during pandemic
Consumer Action joined 55 other organizations in submitting a letter to Senate leadership in opposition to the Safely Back to School and Back to Work Act. This proposed legislation falls far short of what young Americans need and should expect from their elected leaders. Rather than extend vital support during a dual public health and economic crisis, this bill would leave millions of student loan borrowers without protections while failing to extend and expand a repayment suspension put in place by the CARES Act. Doing so would only make the burden of student debt heavier, leaving many young Americans financially insecure.

Protect the Pell Grant during and after the COVID-19 crisis
As lawmakers work on providing economic relief to American families amid the COVID-19 crisis and move forward with the FY21 appropriations process, it is critical that they invest in and protect the Pell Grant program - the nation's cornerstone investment in higher education - to ensure students have the funds to pursue postsecondary education during this emergency and in its aftermath.

U.S. Dept. of Education urged to protect students as higher education programs move online
COVID-19 has made it more important than ever to maintain strong oversight of distance education programs and their use of taxpayer dollars. Significantly changing or weakening government regulations presents a serious risk to students. In a letter to the U.S. Department of Education, coalition advocates urged the Department to maintain basic safeguards in distance education and innovation regulations, which is particularly critical given the number of schools that have recently moved to online offerings as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

Congress: Pass a clean budget for FY2021
Advocates called on Congress to pass an upcoming federal budget that funds the things that Americans care about, not undo essential consumer and environmental safeguards through policy riders. Policy riders are attached to legislation and rarely have anything to do with the bill. In fact, most riders are handouts to big corporations and special favors for interest groups that could not become law on their own merits. As Congress prepares the federal budget for fiscal year 2021, no appropriations titles, package of bills, or continuing resolutions should pass if they contain poison pill policy riders that go against the public interest, including policies that ensure safe and healthy food, restrain Wall Street abuses, provide access to justice and fair housing, and guarantee access to safe healthcare.

Congress steps in to overturn DeVos borrower defense rule
In September, the Department of Education released a new version of the "Borrower Defense to Repayment" rule that would make it virtually impossible for students cheated by their college to cancel their student loans. Senator Dick Durbin and Representative Susie Lee have introduced a Congressional Review Act challenge to repeal this rule and restore stronger student protections put in place in a 2016 Borrower Defense rule.

The sale of .org a big concern for non-profit organizations
A private equity firm will soon run the internet’s top domain name extension for non-profits after purchasing the non-profit organization that runs it. Millions of non-profits around the world rely on .org domain. Yet, the Internet Society, the American nonprofit organization founded in 1992 to provide leadership in internet-related standards, decided to sell it, causing concern that fees to renew domain names will drastically increase in order for the firm to recoup its billion-dollar investment. Proponents of the deal reasoned that competition will keep renewal prices in check, but non-profit associations with established web addresses are wary to risk changing their web address and losing their online identity—in doing so, organizations may not be found by clients and donors under a new web address.

A new bill aimed at helping students lacks robust borrower protections
Consumer Action joined over 40 organizations in a letter to Senator Lamar Alexander to express concerns regarding his recently introduced bill, the Student Aid Improvement Act. Unfortunately, the bill fails to include any provisions that hold low-quality and sometimes predatory colleges accountable, and better protect students and taxpayers. Any reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) must include robust consumer protections.

Further cuts to Pell will put college out of reach for many low-income families
Consumer Action joined a letter to Senate appropriators urging them to oppose the overall Labor-HHS-Education spending allocation and the accompanying proposed $1.3 billion rescission from the Pell grant reserve fund. Instead, advocates urged the Senate to fully retain all current Pell funds where they belong - in the Pell Grant program.

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