Thursday, Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) sent a letter calling on federal agencies to take action to protect students and veterans from potentially fraudulent institutions like Trump University. The senators’ letter requests that the U.S. Department of Education (ED), Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) work to develop a “consumer warning system” to warn potential students and veterans when an institution deceptively markets itself as a university.
Trump University was notified in 2005 that it was operating in violation of New York State law by calling itself a “university,” despite not being chartered as a university nor licensed to offer instruction or training. However, the business continued the misleading practice for five additional years. Noting the mounting evidence that Trump University engaged in unfair and deceptive marketing to recruit students, the senators wrote today to ask federal agencies to “take proper and necessary steps to prevent the creation of additional Trump University-like entities that prey on the hopes, dreams, and aspirations of students and their families.”
“At the federal level we seek to foster and encourage the attainment of higher education and career and job training through a variety of grant, loan, workforce, and job corps programs. But these investments—as well as the public’s confidence in our system of higher education—are undermined by misleading and deceptive programs like those operated by Trump University,” wrote the senators.
In addition to calling on the federal agencies to develop a consumer warning system such as an online database or other information tool, the letter asks ED, FTC, CFPB, and the VA to enhance and prioritize enforcement of federal consumer protection laws. “It is more important than ever that we do everything possible to maintain the public’s trust in our institutions of higher learning and the quality of the education they provide,” the senators said in the letter.
Read a PDF copy of the letter here.