Republican Senators Offer Bill to Prevent Rule Tightening on Student Loans

A group of “Republican senators introduced a bill to block the Obama administration from tightening rules on federal loans to students attending for-profit colleges, even as Senate Democrats announced plans [to] continue their probe of the industry,” CQ reports.

The dueling strategies point to the continuing effort by the lucrative for-profit industry to push back against efforts to curtail what the government has called deceptive marketing and recruiting practices.

On Thursday, a group of five Republican senators led by Jim Risch of Idaho introduced a bill (S 460) that would prevent the Department of Education from implementing what’s known as the “gainful employment” regulation, which would eliminate federal financial aid for programs with high proportions of students who are not repaying the principal on their student loans, or who end up with excessive debt loads compared with the salaries they can earn.

Sens. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Jim DeMint of South Carolina,Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, and Mike Lee of Utah are cosponsors of the bill.

Also on Thursday, Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chairman Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, announced the fourth in a series of hearings probing industry practices. The March 10 hearing will be what Harkin called a case study of Bridgepoint Education Inc., a publicly-traded for-profit company based in San Diego, with online and traditional programs that have grown quickly in recent years.

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