Coalition EffortsConsumer Action is working on these important issues along with other organizations. If you would like to know more about these issues, please see "More Information" at the end of each article.
Protect Pell Grant funding for students
As House and Senate Appropriations Committees prepare to announce top line allocations, advocates urged Congress to protect Pell Grant funding from being reallocated for any other non-Pell Grant related programs. Despite strong opposition last year, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to cut the maximum Pell Grant for students by at least $845 and eliminate $56 billion more in mandatory funding for Pell Grants over the next 10 years. These cuts reduce or eliminate Pell Grants for nearly 9 million students, making it impossible for many to receive a higher education.
A strong FCC preserves net neutrality
Consumer Action joined other consumer rights and privacy advocates in sending a letter to House of Representatives leadership expressing opposition to H.R. 2666, the “No Rate Regulation of Broadband Internet Access Act.” This bill would strip the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) of authority to review certain practices of broadband providers related to their customers’ privacy. Despite its name, the bill has much less to do with preventing the FCC from setting rates for broadband service than with preventing the FCC from investigating practices that may undermine the open Internet rules.
ACICS fails to enforce education standards; wastes $3.5 billion in federal aid
Consumer Action joined a coalition of 22 student and consumer protection organizations in asking the Department of Education to revoke the recognition of the much-criticized Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS). This is the same agency that allowed Corinthian College to keep its accreditation up until the day it filed for bankruptcy. A recent ProPublica report found that students at schools accredited by ACICS were worse off than students at other schools: only 35 percent of students graduate from ACICS-accredited schools, the lowest rate of any accreditor (the national graduation rate is around 59 percent) and within three years of leaving school, one out of five students who graduated from an ACICS-accredited school defaulted on their student loans.
It’s time to protect travelers from airlines’ soaring fees
In 2015, U.S. airlines collected $10.8 billion in ancillary fees, an increase of 24 percent since 2014. These fees, combined with historically low fuel prices and increasingly cramped seats drove record profits for the industry in 2015, a trend that is expected to continue in 2016. Consumer Action joined consumer advocates in urging Senate leadership to support the inclusion of the “FAIR Fees Act” (S. 2656) with the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2016 (S. 2658). FAIR Fees would prevent airlines from charging consumers unreasonable or disproportionate cancellation, baggage or other ancillary fees.
What is the Department of Education waiting for?
In a letter to the Department of Education, coalition advocates urge the department to discharge the federal loans of students who were scammed and defrauded under current regulations more quickly and efficiently. The group also proposes regulations that will make it easier, not harder, for such borrowers to get the relief they are entitled to under existing law.
Dept. of Education should protect students–not the schools that bully them
The for-profit college industry should not be able to profit from federal tax dollars while defrauding its students and escaping liability by hampering the exercise of students’ legal rights through forced arbitration clauses. The coalition expressed serious concern about the impact of forced arbitration proceedings—including the secrecy surrounding them—on the department’s ability to identify and address fraud. Private arbitration shields critical information from public view and regulators and allows for-profit schools like Corinthian College to escape accountability for years.
FTC Holder Rule strengthens consumer rights
Consumer advocates have described the Holder Rule as the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) most effective tool against fraud. In a letter to the FTC, advocates urged the Commission to preserve the Holder Rule to assist consumers in the ongoing struggle to curb unfair or abusive business practices and reiterate its key features and remedies available to consumers, and to consider our recommendations to facilitate effective application of the rule.
Building a resolution-focused complaint database students need
In a letter to Acting Education Secretary John King, Consumer Action and 50 other organizations that advocate on behalf of students, consumers, veterans, faculty and staff responded to the Department of Education’s request for comments on their proposed Enterprise Complaint System. The organizations applaud the Department for proposing a student and borrower complaint tracking system that accepts complaints about loans, other aid, and colleges, while urging the Department to make the system public, searchable, resolution-focused and inter-connected to the complaint systems at other government agencies.
In favor of stronger banking fraud protections for consumers
In a letter to the Committee on Rules Chairman Pete Sessions and Ranking Member Louise Slaughter, Consumer Action joined coalition advocates in strong opposition to the Financial Institution Customer Protection Act of 2015 (H.R. 766), introduced by Representative Luetkemeyer. The bill will hamper critical Department of Justice and banking regulator efforts (namely “Operation Choke Point”) to detect fraudulent activities and money laundering, putting consumers and financial institutions at risk of serious financial loss.
"V.W. Bailout" bill is bad business for consumers
While the Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency are suing Volkswagen for knowingly cheating on emission tests of its “clean” diesel vehicles, politicians in Washington D.C. are trying to pass a bill that would shield Volkswagen from class-action lawsuits filed on behalf of the nearly 500,000 customers who were defrauded by the company. H.R. 1927 not only prevents V.W. owners from seeking justice, but if passed, aims to cripple all class-action lawsuits against big corporations.