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Rep. Porter Leads California Colleagues in Effort to Prevent Students from Losing Federal Aid

Congresswoman urges Department of Education to immediately accept California plan to comply with newly implemented regulation

Congresswoman Katie Porter (CA-45) today led 18 of her House colleagues to call on the U.S. Department of Education not to withhold federal student aid from Californians receiving online education offered by out-of-state institutions. The Department had previously threatened to pull aid from California students, but the state proposed a new plan to comply with the Department’s newly implemented regulation that awaits approval by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

“The State of California did its job in proposing this plan, and now it’s time for the Department of Education to do its part and accept this plan,” Congresswoman Porter said. “California students should not lose their federal aid because of inaction at the Department of Education. As the new school year approaches, I’m calling on Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to do right by California’s students.”

The 2016 State Authorization Regulations rule requires that distance education providers document that every state with students enrolled in their program has a complaint system established to resolve student concerns. California had not yet come into compliance with this rule, as the Department of Education under Betsy DeVos delayed implementation of this rule.

Following a lawsuit from the National Education Association (NEA), a court ordered Secretary DeVos to immediately implement this rule. She then issued a guidance which said that all California students enrolled in these programs would no longer be eligible for federal financial aid—about 80,000 students. As a result, California rapidly released a plan last Friday to come into compliance, but Secretary DeVos has yet to approve the plan.

In a letter to Secretary DeVos, Porter and 18 of her House colleagues wrote, “In less than one month, most students enrolled in higher education institutions will begin their classes. These students have already received notice regarding their financial aid packages, including Title IV aid, and many have made their postsecondary education decisions based on this information. Ripping away critical financial support now could force students to drop out of classes, cutting short their pursuit of an education that we know is essential to their future mobility.”

A tenured law professor at UC Irvine, Congresswoman Porter has made access to higher education a top priority. Last month, she joined colleagues in introducing a bill to make permanent a student loan forgiveness program for borrowers who were defrauded or misled by their schools. She authored a bill in May to protect student borrowers and increase transparency and accountability within the student loan servicing industry. In April, Porter held townhalls at UC Irvine and Concordia University Irvine to hear directly from students.

Read the full letter to the Department of Education HERE.