Nearly 1,300 colleges owe over $1 billion to Dept. of Education, report says

Nearly 1,300 colleges owe over $1 billion to Dept. of Education, report says
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The Department of Education has failed to get back more than $1 billion owed from nearly 1,300 colleges, according to a new report from an education advocacy group.

The National Student Legal Defense Network, using data obtained from Freedom of Information Act requests, said in its report published Thursday that colleges owe around $1.2 billion to the department as of February.

The nonprofit organization asserted that while the department pursues student loan borrowers "aggressively," the same treatment is not applied to colleges and owners.

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“While the Department aggressively attempts to collect from borrowers, institutions and their owners and executives walked away from more than a billion dollars owed to taxpayers,” the report said.

"Meanwhile, the Department’s use of preventative measures to protect taxpayer interests—such as enhanced financial monitoring and requiring institutions to post sureties to guard against losses—have proven ineffective at preventing harm to students and taxpayers alike," the report continues.

The report says that the department's failure to collect debt from colleges has likely cost it at least $218 million because "the statute of limitations on collections has expired."

Department of Education press secretary Kelly Leon told The Hill in a statement that “the Department is committed to improving our policies and practices to better hold institutions accountable for their actions and to provide borrowers with fair and streamlined access to the benefits to which they are entitled.”

Updated Wednesday at 8:44 a.m.