March 17, 2016
Public Citizen Helps Lead Coalition to Deliver 21,000 Signatures to Department of Education
Statement of Sonia Gill, Counsel for Civil Justice and Consumer Protection for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch Division
Note: Today, Public Citizen joined Americans for Financial Reform to deliver more than 21,000 signatures in support of concepts outlined in a new petition (PDF) to the U.S. Department of Education.
Thousands of Americans who oppose the use of forced arbitration by schools that receive Title IV funding, such as Direct Loans and Pell grants, submitted their own comments to encourage the Department of Education to solve this problem. The commenters agree that students who have been victims of fraud and other wrongdoing by schools should not have to sacrifice their day in court for a day in the classroom. The submission of the comments follows a positive announcement early this week by the U.S. Department of Education that it would consider, as part of an ongoing negotiated rulemaking, a measure to protect students from institutions that use forced arbitration. Negotiators are meeting this week in Washington, D.C., to discuss the measure.
We applaud the U.S. Department of Education and Secretary King for acknowledging the serious harm to students and taxpayers caused by forced arbitration clauses and for proposing to condition federal funding through the Direct Loan Program on a school’s agreement not to use forced arbitration clauses in student contracts.
We are delivering these 21,000-plus signatures during the agency’s negotiated rulemaking session to emphasize the strong public support for the department to go even further, and create a rule that conditions all Title IV funding, not just Direct Loans, on an institution’s agreement not to use forced arbitration clauses. As the formal petition submitted by Public Citizen recently explained, such a rule would offer still greater protection for students and taxpayers and ensure the department can adequately oversee the federal investment in Title IV programs.