Public Citizen and Americans for Financial Reform have collected more than 21,000 signatures from people in agreement: Students deserve their day in court if universities are ripping them off — and the Department of Education should not facilitate predatory colleges by giving them federal funding.

Click to view individual petitions and signers:

Public Citizen (10,277 signers)
Americans for Financial Reform (11,145 signers)

Three weeks ago, Public Citizen formally petitioned the Department of Education to consider a rule to withhold federal Title IV funding from colleges and universities that bury forced arbitration clauses in students’ enrollment contracts. Our press release can be found here .

These arbitration clauses, usually buried in the fine print of an enrollment contract, bar students from seeking justice in court if the students feel their schools do not live up to their end of the deal. For-profit colleges have been using these clauses to ensure students can’t hold the colleges accountable in court, but are instead subjected to a private arbitration process that favors large corporations and their lawyers.

A coalition of student, veteran, civil rights, consumer, and civil justice groups signed on to a letter calling for the end of these deceptive and abusive practices by predatory institutions.

And a letter from thirty-five senators implored the Department of Education to crack down on the use of forced arbitration agreements by schools that receive federal Title IV funding.

Last week the Department proposed options for changing its existing regulations to address the use of forced arbitration by Title IV-participating schools. A group of stakeholders will discuss those options this week in a negotiated rulemaking organized by the Department.

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