Durbin urges Congress to help struggling students

By WEEK Reporter

Durbin urges Congress to help struggling students

March 20, 2012 Updated Mar 20, 2012 at 10:42 AM CDT

WASHINGTON, DC -- U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) urged Congress to take steps to help struggling students on Tuesday. 

Durbin said that Congress could start by passing the Fairness for Struggling Students Act.  This bill would treat private loans for college like other forms of debt during bankruptcy. 

He also said that the for-profit college industry is partially to blame.

"There is now more student loan debt in this country thancredit card debt," Senator Durbin said.  "While overall growth in student indebtedness is troubling, the most pressing concern is private student loans which are bieng aggressively promoted by the for-profit college industry."

Also testifying on Tuesday was Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.  Madigan recently filed a lawsuit against Westwood College.  According to Madigan, Westwood falsely told students that they could pursue a career with law enforcement agencies in Illinois even though few of these agencies recognize a Westwood degree due to its lack of accredidation.

"In short, many Westwood students are now burdened with debt loads as high as $80,000 and stuck with a degree that is neither marketable or transferable," Madigan said.

Durbin is pushing for meaningful accredidation for for-profit schools to ensure that students are not being saddled with piles of debt and a worthless degree.

"The more we learn about the private student loan market, the more concerns we have," said Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway, who also testified at the hearing.  "Because of this relationship, I must ask, why should we provide these students with no less than the same consumer protections that are available to federal loan borrowers?"

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