Cisneros, Brownley, and Levin Introduce Legislation to Strengthen Oversight of Higher Education Institutions’ Closure Preparedness

November 18, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC –  Today, Representative Gilbert R. Cisneros, Jr. (CA-39) joined Representatives Mike Levin (CA-49) and Julia Brownley (CA-26) to introduce the Higher Education Standards Improvement Act. The bill provides states with direct oversight responsibility over closure preparedness among higher education institutions. The legislation requires states to verify that Title IV funded schools maintain a State Tuition Recovery Fund to refund students that have suffered economic harm due to a closure. This bill provides students, whether they are using Department of Education or Veteran Affairs funding, additional protection in case their school closes.

"As a Navy veteran and education advocate who benefited from the G.I. Bill, we need to ensure our veterans receive the best education possible,” said Rep. Gil Cisneros. “As our veterans pursue quality education and workforce skills so they can successfully transition back to civilian life, it’s important that their hard-earned benefits are protected, especially when facing the hardships of an unfortunate school closure. I’m proud to join my colleagues to introduce legislation that will ensure our veterans and students have stability and protective oversight as they pursue a college degree.”

“When higher education institutions close, students can be met with extreme hardships that go beyond just finding a new place to restart their education. It is imperative that when this happens, we ensure that our students – especially those who have served our nation in uniform – are properly informed, receive appropriate refunds, and have access to their records,” said Rep. Brownley. “I am proud to join Congressman Levin in introducing this bill to make sure that we protect our students and veteran students from undue burden when they face the devastation and disruption of their school closing. I look forward to working with him to move this critical bill forward.”

“Students should have every opportunity to pursue a higher education without worrying about the devastating consequences of school closures,” said Rep. Levin. “In too many cases, students are left holding the bag when colleges or universities suddenly close, without the refunds or records they deserve. That’s simply not fair, which is why we must ensure that states exercise adequate oversight over closure preparedness among higher education institutions. I’m proud to introduce the Higher Education Standards Improvement Act with Representatives Brownley and Cisneros, and look forward to advancing the legislation along with the Higher Education Act.”

In addition to requiring the maintenance of a State Tuition Recovery Fund, the legislation also requires states to maintain student contact information and ensure that students have access to their transcripts after a closure. The bill also directs states to maintain a  complaint system, and review an institution’s facilities, equipment, and supplies. 

Rep. Cisneros is a Navy veteran and a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. Earlier this year he joined his colleagues to introduce legislation that protects veterans from predatory for-profit colleges. Rep. Cisneros has also introduced legislation to ensure GI Bill beneficiaries continue to receive financial assistance and housing allowance between school terms.

 

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