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Chairman Miller Calls on Secretary Spellings to Take Action to Improve the Student Loan Industry
By Brooke Heath
Last week, U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-CA), Chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, called on Department of Education Secretary Margaret Spellings to take immediate action to improve the operations of the federal student loan programs.
In light of the ongoing investigations regarding conflicts of interest between certain student lenders and universities, Miller asked that Spellings take specific steps to ensure that the programs are run properly, guaranteeing that students, families, and taxpayers receive the utmost advantages.
"At the very time that our nation's students and families are struggling more than ever to afford college, our top priority is to ensure that borrowers can have full confidence in the nation's student aid system and that these programs are working as intended to help them pay for college," Miller said. "We must exhaustively investigate the extent of the corruption undermining these programs and learn how we can build on our proposed legislation to fully protect students and families."
According to a press release from the U.S. House of Representatives' Education and Labor Committee, in a letter to Spellings, Miller requested that the following five actions be carried out:
1. Impose a moratorium on "preferred lender lists."
2. Clearly define and end bribes paid by lenders.
3. Require full disclosure.
4. Instruct schools and lenders to cease and desist all conflicts of interest.
5. Conduct oversight of Department of Education employees.
In addition, Chairman Miller called upon Secretary Spellings to initiate a public campaign informing students and families of their rights and options as student loan borrowers. Furthermore, Miller demanded that the campaign make all records of loan-industry meetings with political appointees public. This would allow Congress and the American public to gain insight as to which individuals at the Department of Education were being lobbied by the industry.
In February, the Student Loan Sunshine Act was introduced by Chairman Miller. This legislation would require that lenders and schools disclose the natures of their relationships. Additionally, the bill would ban lenders from giving gifts worth more than $10 to institutions.
It has also been announced that New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who initiated the investigation into lender-school alliances, will speak at a hearing further examining these conflicts of interest on April 25th.
Article Title : Chairman Miller Calls on Secretary Spellings to Take Action to Improve the Student Loan Industry
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