Learn more about our policy experts.

Media Contacts

Angela Bradbery, Director of Communications
w. (202) 588-7741
c. (202) 503-6768
abradbery@citizen.org, Twitter

Don Owens, Deputy Director of Communications
w. (202) 588-7767
dowens@citizen.org

Karilyn Gower, Press Officer
w. (202) 588-7779
kgower@citizen.org

David Rosen, Press Officer, Regulatory Affairs
w. (202) 588-7742
drosen@citizen.org

Other Important Links

Press Release Database
Citizen Vox blog
Texas Vox blog
Consumer Law and Policy blog
Energy Vox blog
Eyes on Trade blog
Facebook/publiccitizen

Follow us on Twitter

 

March 18, 2016

Public Citizen Disappointed in Education Department’s Weak Response to Forced Arbitration

Statement of Julie Murray, Attorney for Public Citizen

Note: Over the past few months, nine U.S. senators, 46 groups and more than 21,000 citizens joined Public Citizen in calling for strong rule to protect students from forced arbitration. Last week, the U.S. Department of Education announced that it would consider, as part of an ongoing negotiated rulemaking, two alternative measures for protecting students from institutions that use forced arbitration. Negotiators have been meeting this week in Washington, D.C., to discuss the measures. Today, the department proposed adopting the weaker of its two measures for restricting the use of mandatory arbitration by schools that receive Title IV funds.

Public Citizen appreciates the department’s recognition that students and taxpayers suffer serious harm when predatory schools impose forced arbitration clauses on their students. But the solution endorsed by the department this morning is insufficient to address the problem. Its proposal also is inexplicable in light of the overwhelming support, voiced at the department’s negotiating session on Thursday, for adopting a stronger measure on arbitration to protect students and federal investments.

Under the department’s latest proposal, schools would be able to continue to force students to arbitrate individual claims and claims brought by groups of classmates. The proposal would not necessarily cover claims related to a school’s advertising, marketing, recruitment and enrollment – precisely the activities that trigger many claims against predatory schools. Furthermore, schools could continue to use mandatory arbitration clauses for non-class claims, including provisions to deter students from bringing claims by imposing high arbitration fees or limiting an arbitrator’s ability to award damages or injunctive relief.

The department should have chosen the stronger enforcement measure at its disposal, which would have conditioned Title IV funding on a school’s agreement to forgo mandatory arbitration clauses with students under any circumstances. The Federal Arbitration Act and the Higher Education Act permit the department to adopt reasonable conditions on participation in a student loan program. Requiring schools to forgo forced arbitration that harms students and taxpayers is both reasonable and the most sensible way forward.

###

Copyright © 2017 Public Citizen. Some rights reserved. Non-commercial use of text and images in which Public Citizen holds the copyright is permitted, with attribution, under the terms and conditions of a Creative Commons License. This Web site is shared by Public Citizen Inc. and Public Citizen Foundation. Learn More about the distinction between these two components of Public Citizen.


Public Citizen, Inc. and Public Citizen Foundation

 

You can support the fight for greater government and corporate accountability through a donation to either Public Citizen, Inc., or Public Citizen Foundation, Inc.

Public Citizen lobbies Congress and federal agencies to advance Public Citizen’s mission of advancing government and corporate accountability. When you make a contribution to Public Citizen, you become a member of Public Citizen, showing your support and entitling you to benefits such as Public Citizen News. Contributions to Public Citizen are not tax-deductible.

Public Citizen Foundation focuses on research, public education, and litigation in support of our mission. By law, the Foundation can engage in only very limited lobbying. Contributions to Public Citizen Foundation are tax-deductible.