NC Calls on Department of Education to Cooperate Again With Law Enforcement Again

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein yesterday called on the U.S. Department of Education to honor its “historic law enforcement partnerships” by reinstating the long-standing practice of disclosing student loan information to law enforcement agencies – a practice it curtailed without explanation last month.

In a letter sent last Friday to U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Attorney General Stein and 19 other attorneys general note that the Department of Education in June “quietly” revised its policy of disclosing student loan information to law enforcement agencies, reversing a practice that’s existed for the better part of two decades. That letter can be found here.

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“Sharing information between federal and state law enforcement is critical to protecting student borrowers from fraud,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “I am disappointed in the US Department of Education’s policy reversal and urge its immediate reconsideration.”

Since at least 2000, the federal government has permitted routine disclosure of student loan information to state attorneys general and other authorities responsible for investigating and prosecuting crimes and civil fraud. The Education Department expanded law enforcement’s access to relevant student loan information in 2016, facilitating disclosures unrelated to possible violations of criminal laws and civil fraud. The Department’s action last month reverses this practice.

In addition, Attorney General Stein contacted Dream Center Holdings, the parent company of the Art Institutes of Charlotte and Raleigh and South University in High Point, to seek more information related to the abrupt closing of these schools. Attorney General Stein is asking Dream Center to explain next steps so that students can make informed decisions about their future. That letter can be found here.

The recently-announced closures of the Art Institutes of Charlotte and Raleigh and South University in High Point highlight the continued need for cooperation between state and federal officials to protect North Carolina students.

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“Protecting students is an important part of my role as Attorney General,” said Attorney General Stein. “That is why I’ve engaged the Art Institutes and South University. I look forward to working with Dream Center to make sure students have all the information they need to make informed decisions.”

In a separate letter, our office contacted the Department of Education to seek assurances that these students are treated fairly. That letter can be found here.

Attorney General Josh Stein’s office remains committed to a strong and sustained effort aimed at protecting students and student loan borrowers, and to ensuring that educational institutions deliver the services they promise to provide their students.

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