March 13, 2019

Senator Hirono, Senate Democrats Call on Secretary DeVos to Take Action Assisting Students Following Argosy University Closure

WASHINGTON, D.C.–In a letter to the U.S. Department of Education (Department), Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) and twelve of her Senate Democratic colleagues wrote to Secretary Betsy DeVos urging her to take immediate action to assist students affected by the collapse of Argosy University. Argosy Hawaii, which enrolled roughly 800 students in the state, officially closed on March 8, 2019.

The Department must coordinate with other federal and state agencies to ensure students are fully aware of all their options for the restoration of tuition payments or benefits.  Students should also be informed if their state has a tuition recovery fund and how to apply,” the Senators wrote.

“The Department must also work with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to ensure accurate information is being provided to GI bill beneficiaries regarding students’ remaining benefits, including housing, and their options to have their benefits restored for the current term,” they continued.

In the letter, Senator Hirono and her colleagues addressed several outstanding issues regarding Argosy’s closure, including teach-out agreements and transfers; closed school discharge options for students and faculty; semester debt cancellation options after the Department was unable to account for millions in federal student aid funds owed to students; disclosure forms after the Department failed to provide meaningful, timely, and direct disclosures to students; access to transcripts and student records; and other options available to students to pursue their education at high-quality not-for-profit institutions.

The Senators also pressed the Department to work with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to ensure accurate information is being provided to GI bill beneficiaries regarding students’ remaining benefits, including housing, and their options to have their benefits restored for the current term.

Joining Senator Hirono on the letter are Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

Following the collapse of Corinthian Colleges in 2015, which operated as Heald College in Hawaii, Senator Hirono cosponsored legislation with Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) to restore federal student aid eligibility and GI Bill benefits for students. She also signed onto a letter led by Senators Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) calling for the Department to establish a clear process for students to have their federal student loans discharged.

In 2017, Senator Hirono introduced legislation to restore federal Pell Grants for students defrauded by for-profit colleges and helped lead the charge to hold the Trump Administration accountable for its decision to delay rules that would protect from predatory for-profit colleges.

The Hawaii Post-secondary Education Authorization Program (HPEAP) has been working with Argosy Hawaii students, and continues to post regular updates on its website—including information related to transfers, transcripts, and loan stipends. Additionally, more information can be found on the Department’s website here.

The full text of the letter can be found here.

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