April 22, 2016

In the Wake of Corinthian Collapse, Wyden and Merkley Join Colleagues to Urge the U.S. Department of Education to Hold College Accreditors Accountable

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In the wake of the collapse of Corinthian Colleges, Oregon’s Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today joined 22 of their colleagues in a new letter urging the U.S. Secretary of Education John King to ensure that college accreditors, the gatekeepers to the $150 billion in federal financial aid that flows to colleges and universities each year, are held accountable in ensuring that schools are providing their students with a quality education and not just saddling them with debt.

The letter cites a 2014 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report which found that college accreditors are not rigorously evaluating schools to ensure they meet basic expectations and provide a quality education. Other reports have found some fully accredited schools graduate less than ten percent of their students.

In the letter, Senate Democrats call for the U.S. Department of Education to engage in a thorough and comprehensive review process to determine if the accreditors have, and enforce, sufficiently rigorous standards that evaluate student achievement and the quality of an institution’s programs. The Senators argue that without a strong accrediting system, too many families will continue to fall prey to predatory colleges that mislead students about job placement rates and the quality of instruction. Accreditors that have significantly failed to live up to their responsibilities do not deserve to serve as gatekeepers to federal funds and should not be recognized by the Department.

In addition to Wyden and Merkley, the letter was signed by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Tom Carper (D-DE), Chris Coons (D-DE), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Al Franken (D-MN), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Edward Markey (D-MA), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Patty Murray (D-WA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Bernard Sanders (I-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

Read the full text of the letter here.

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