A handful of Democratic lawmakers urged the U.S. Department of Education on Friday to aggressively seek money from the University of Phoenix and Ashford University to cover the costs of discharged loans for students who attended those institutions.
The Education Department announced in September that it was canceling $37 million in student loans for certain borrowers who attended the University of Phoenix.
Likewise, the agency said in August it would discharge $72 million in student loans for those who attended Ashford, which was renamed the University of Arizona Global Campus in late 2020 after the University of Arizona acquired it.
The agency cleared the debts under the borrower defense to repayment program, which financially protects students defrauded by their colleges. In both cases, the Education Department said it would seek recoupment from the institutions.
The lawmakers — led by U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, from Illinois, and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, from Connecticut — praised the move to seek recoupment.
“For far too long, predatory for-profit colleges like Ashford and Phoenix have preyed on students, especially veterans, students of color, and low-income students,” the lawmakers wrote. “We therefore urge the Department to aggressively recoup funds from these institutions. This would send a strong warning signal to other predatory for-profit colleges that there are substantial financial consequences for defrauding students.”
The Education Department did not immediately answer questions Monday about whether it has initiated recoupment proceedings against the two colleges.
The lawmakers’ letter did not mention DeVry University, from which the department is also seeking recoupment.
However, an administrative law judge in the Education Department’s Office of Hearing and Appeals granted DeVry’s request last month to temporarily block recoupment proceedings against it.
The Education Department has requested that the DeVry decision be reconsidered.