BillTracker

Regulating the institutions of higher education, including for-profit institutions and private vocational schools, to protect students from unfair business practices (Pollet, Haler, Tarleton)

Proposed Substitute bill makes changes to the requirement that degree-granting institutions and private vocational schools send notifications to students with educational loan information, including estimated total payoff and monthly repayment amounts. Changes provisions addressing when and how the notifications must be sent, clarifies that the percentage of federal direct loan limit reached should be the aggregate borrowing limit applicable to the student's program of study, changes the implementation date for the notices (July 1, 2018), and makes other changes.

Protects students from unfair business practices by regulating the institutions of higher education, including for-profit institutions and private vocational schools. Creates the office of the ombuds serving students of for-profit degree granting institutions and private vocational schools within the student achievement council to provide assistance to students of for-profit postsecondary institutions and private vocational schools. Expands the duties of the council.


1ST SUBSTITUTE COMPARED TO ORIGINAL (Higher Ed Committee):
The substitute bill: (1) replaces the intent section; (2) applies the bill to institutions authorized to operate under the degree-granting institution act (not just for-profit institutions); (3) removes the creation of the Ombuds office; (4) requires the WSAC, subject to appropriated funds, to continue administering the study authorized in the 2016 Supplemental Operating Budget, and requires the study to contain recommendations on the creation of an Ombuds office; (5) makes it explicit that the WSAC may deny, revoke, or suspend the authorization of a degree-granting institution for violations under the chapter; (6) authorizes the WSAC to deny, revoke, or suspend authorization if the institution has engaged in a significant number of unfair business practices (as opposed to a substantial number of unfair business practices or a significant unfair business practice); (7) provides that, for purposes of presenting data on completion rates and other similar data, the presentation must be consistent with how data is presented on the Career Bridge website, the United States Department of Education, or other means to assure consistent and accurate reporting; (8) requires the WSAC and the WTB to establish consistent definitions by rule for the terms: "short-term job," "part-time employment," "self-employment," and "under-reported earnings;" (9) makes changes to the requirement that degree-granting institutions and private vocational schools send notifications to students with educational loan information, including estimated total payoff and monthly repayment amounts; and (10) makes other clarifying and technical changes.

2ND SUBSTITUTE (Appropriations) COMPARED TO 1ST SUBSTITUTE (Higher Ed)
The Appropriations Committee recommended: (1) removing the requirement that the Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board (WTB) establish methodologies for posting alternative data; (2) making it explicit that the WTB is not required to make any changes to the Career Bridge website; and (3) providing that institutions and schools presenting performance data must present data consistent with data posted by the WTB or the United States Department of Education, if those agencies post such data. A null and void clause was added, making the bill null and void unless funded in the budget.

EFFECT OF STRIKER:
•Adds language to the intent section stating that the Ruckelshaus Center issued its first report and that the bill incorporates some of the findings and recommendations from that report.
•Removes the provisions: (1) explicitly stating that a student may bring an action under the consumer protection act for a degree-granting institution's or private vocational school's unfair business practice; (2) making it separate violations for each student injured by an unfair business practice; (3) requiring the institutions and schools to provide notices to students regarding consumer rights; (4) requiring the institutions and schools to provide periodic notices to students regarding their accrual of student financial aid; (5) prohibiting the institutions and schools from engaging in selling student loan products that financially benefit a person with an ownership interest in the institution or school; (6) making it a violation for an institution or school to fail to continue job placement services promised to students if the institution or school closes; (7) making it a violation for an institution or school to place a student in a short-term job unrelated to the student's program for the purposes of meeting reporting requirements; (8) requiring the Student Achievement Council and the Workforce Training Board to establish consistent definitions for terms, such as "part-time employment" and other terms; (9) making it explicit that the Student Achievement Council may deny, revoke, or suspend authorization of a degree-granting institution for engaging in a significant number of unfair business practices; and (10) making it a violation to use an official United States military logo in advertising or promotional materials.
•Removes the null and void clause.

Hearing Date: Tuesday, March 21, 2017 -- 8:00 am

WA State Legislature Link:
http://app.leg.wa.gov/billsummary?BillNumber=1439&Year=2017    (opens a new browser tab)