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August 3, 2021

ATTORNEY GENERAL RAOUL URGES STRONGER POLICIES FOR PROTECTING STUDENTS

Chicago  — Attorney General Kwame Raoul, as part of a bipartisan coalition of 25 attorneys general, today issued a letter to the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) urging it to institute stronger consumer protection policies for the over 3 million students enrolled in distance education courses offered by its 2,276 participating institutions.

The NC-SARA provides leadership over reciprocity agreements joined by 49 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, and it controls the minimum standards and policies to which participating institutions must adhere. In today’s letter, Raoul and the coalition, citing examples of misconduct by schools participating in the NC-SARA, expressed concerns that the NC-SARA’s current policies do not adequately protect students against the unique risks that arise from distance learning, including unfair and deceptive admissions and financial aid practices.

“Too many schools are engaging in deceptive and unlawful practices that not only harm students, but also harm taxpayers who fund the expensive student loans that support such schools,” Raoul said. “I urge the NC-SARA to adopt additional regulations to help ensure consumers are protected from predatory distance education institutions.”

Raoul and the coalition recommend the NC-SARA improve its policies to provide critical student protections, including:

  • Removing language in its policy manual that prohibits states from enforcing their higher education consumer protection laws and instituting meaningful consumer protection standards that participating schools must follow.
  • Improving its procedures to protect current and prospective students at institutions with issues related to consumer protection or financial stability.
  • Reconstituting its board of directors so that at least a majority of its membership is reserved for member states and territories, and that additional individuals with consumer protection expertise, such as state attorneys general, are included.

Joining Raoul in today’s letter are the attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

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