Representative Malinowski Introduces The Higher Education Student Protection Act

September 23, 2019
Press Release

(Washington, DC) Today, Congressman Tom Malinowski introduced the Higher Education Student Protection Act, a bill that will hold institutions of higher education—including predatory for-profit colleges—accountable for spending disproportionately on advertising, marketing, recruitment, and lobbying relative to actual instruction.

“For too long, bad actors—particularly in the for-profit college industry—have used sophisticated marketing campaigns to lure students into pursuing expensive degrees of little value. This bill will protect students, including student veterans, and will hold accountable institutions that put profits over their students’ best interests," said Congressman Malinowski.

“When fly-by-night for-profit colleges demand billions in public subsidies, only to spend it on bloated marketing budgets instead of instruction, it makes an already bad situation 10 times worse,” said Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers. “The failures of these schools—low graduation rates, lies about career prospects and huge amounts of student debt—are well documented. We must demand accountability to improve outcomes, but we also need to make it crystal clear how federal dollars should be spent. The Higher Education Student Protection Act would ensure students’ tuition dollars go toward the actual education they are trying to receive. Colleges, and the federal student aid used to access college, exist so students can learn, not so institutions can act as predatory advertising agencies or real estate investors.”

“Veterans Education Success supports this common sense bill that will help service members, veterans, and their families make better informed decisions about where they pursue their post-secondary education,” said Tanya Ang, Vice President of Veterans Education Success. “Separating marketing and recruiting dollars from student services that have a direct impact on empowering students to successfully accomplish their higher education goals creates better transparency for the students and the taxpayers. Both deserve to know how much money is truly being spent by colleges and universities to support student success.”

The Higher Education Student Protection Act requires institutions to define and report to the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System exactly how much they spend on marketing, recruitment, advertising, and lobbying, and would flag for additional scrutiny the institutions that spend less than one-third of their revenue from tuition and fees on actual instruction. The Department of Education would have to publish this data on its website to help students make more informed decisions.

If these institutions’ total expenditures on marketing, recruitment, advertising, and lobbying are more than the revenue they receive from sources other than federal financial aid for two consecutive years, they would lose access to federal financial aid funds (Title IV) for at least two years.