January 10, 2023
Pressley, Warren Call on the New England Commission on Higher Education to Carefully Scrutinize Troubled Bay State College’s Accreditation at Upcoming Meeting
Ahead of Thursday’s Meeting, Lawmakers Expresses Concerns that Accrediting Agencies Have Acted as “Rubber Stamps” for For-Profit Colleges
Bay State College is Under Investigation by Massachusetts Attorney General For Allegedly Defrauding Students and its Finances Were Placed Under Heightened Monitoring by U.S. Department of Education
WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) and U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) sent a letter to New England Commission on Higher Education (NECHE) calling on the accreditor to carefully scrutinize Bay State College’s accreditation at this Thursday’s scheduled meeting on the college’s accreditation status. In the wake of ongoing reports of fraud and financial mismanagement by Bay State affecting the quality of its education, an investigation by the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office into Bay State’s alleged use of unfair and deceptive practices to defraud students, and the U.S. Department of Education placing Bay State on Heightened Cash Monitoring, the lawmakers are calling on NECHE to take any necessary action, including rescinding Bay State’ accreditation, to protect students and taxpayers.
“As gatekeepers to federal funding, accrediting agencies play a crucial role in upholding institutional quality and student achievement at institutions of higher education,” wrote the lawmakers. “The disturbing reports of fraud and degradation of the learning environment at Bay State College require NECHE to carefully scrutinize Bay State’s accreditation and ensure that students and taxpayers are protected from continued harm.”
Bay State College will appear before NECHE on Thursday, January 12, 2023, at a special meeting to discuss its accreditation status.
In September 2017, the NECHE approved the sale of Bay State College to Ambow Education, a Chinese holding company based in the Cayman Islands. Since the sale, Bay State College suffered years of financial losses and also allegedly failed to pay rent on its facilities and missed payroll for employees. In April 2022, NECHE voted to place Bay State College on probation because it found that the institution “did not demonstrate that its resources are sufficient to sustain the quality of its educational programs and to support institutional improvement now and in the foreseeable future and that it has an effective system of governance and sufficient administrative capacity.”
The lawmakers note that Bay State College has a troubling history of noncompliance with state and federal law. In 2016 and 2017, the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office found that the school engaged in illegal telemarketing practices, provided prospective students with inaccurate job placement figures, and failed to give students disclosures as required by state regulations – and ordered Bay State to pay $1.1 million in relief to hundreds of students who were scammed. Following recent allegations that Bay State may have overcharged students thousands of dollars for classes and misled students about the transferability of classes, the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office is investigating these new complaints. On December 1, 2022, the Department of Education placed Bay State under Heightened Cash Monitoring, which is designed to strengthen accountability for institutions with a history of accreditation issues, weak administrative capabilities, and questionable financial responsibility.
Given ongoing allegations of fraud and Bay State College’s history of abuses, the lawmakers are calling on NECHE to take immediate action, carefully scrutinize Bay State and not act as a “rubber stamp” for accreditation, and if necessary, take action to rescind the institution’s accreditation to protect students and taxpayers. They lawmakers are asking NECHE to answer a set of questions about accreditation for Bay State by January 24, 2023.
A copy of the letter can be found here.
In September 2022, Rep. Pressley and Sen. Warren wrote to the nine federal student loan servicers to inquire about how they are providing borrowers with accurate and timely information about student loan cancellation. They also sent a separate letter to Navient Corporation (Navient) in response to reports that Navient is attempting to scam borrowers out of student debt relief by encouraging them to refinance their loans under Navient’s private lender, NaviRefi.
In 2012, during her time as a Boston City Councilor, Rep. Pressley held a hearing to explore a public awareness campaign to analyze the impact of for-profit college on Boston residents seeking educational opportunities and to explore the feasibility of a public awareness campaign. In 2013, she held a community meeting with then-Attorney General Martha Coakley to inform community leaders and organizations about Eliminating Deceptive Education Business Tactics (D.E.B.T.).
Rep. Pressley, along with Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), have consistently called on President Biden to cancel student debt. Last year, they led their colleagues in reintroducing their bicameral resolution outlining a bold plan for President Biden to tackle the student loan debt crisis by using existing authority under the Higher Education Act to cancel federal student loan debt.
- On November 22, 2022, Rep. Pressley issued a statement applauding the extension of the student loan payment pause.
- On October 25, 2022, Rep. Pressley and Senator Warren toured communities across Massachusetts to celebrate the Biden administration’s student debt cancellation plan and help residents sign up for student loan relief.
- On October 12, 2022, Rep. Pressley joined parent borrowers and advocates for a discussion on the impacts of student debt cancellation on parents and families.
- On September 29, 2022, Rep. Pressley, along with Senate Majority Leader Schumer and Reps. Omar, Jones and advocates, held a press conference to call for swift and equitable implementation of President Biden’s student debt cancellation plan.
- On September 21, 2022, Rep. Pressley delivered a powerful speech on the House floor in which she heralded President Biden’s action to cancel student debt for millions of families in the Massachusetts 7th and across the nation. Watch the full video here.
- On September 12, 2022, Rep. Pressley and Senator Warren wrote to the nine federal student loan servicers to inquire about how they are providing borrowers with accurate and timely information about student loan cancellation.
- On August 24, 2022, Congresswoman Pressley issued a statement applauding President Biden’s action to cancel student debt.
- On August 10, 2022, Congresswoman Pressley and Senator Warren Massachusetts joined Massachusetts union leaders in Dorchester for a roundtable discussion on student debt cancellation.
- On July 18, 2022, Congresswoman Pressley delivered remarks at the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) national convention and renewed her calls for President Biden to cancel student debt by executive action.
- On July 8, 2022, Congresswoman Pressley with The Debt Collective hosted a virtual roundtable with student debt holders from all walks of life to highlight the intersectional burden the nearly $2 trillion student debt crisis has had on individuals and families.
- On June 22, 2022, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, with Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, joined AFL-CIO and union leaders for a roundtable discussion on the importance of student debt cancellation for American workers.
- On May 20, 2022, Congresswoman Pressley applauded the Congressional Black Caucus’ (CBC) statement calling on President Biden to cancel student loan debt.
- On May 4, 2022, Congresswoman Pressley visited Bunker Hill Community College to celebrate the $1 million in federal community project funding she secured and continued her calls for President Biden to cancel student debt.
- On March 17, 2022, Congresswoman Pressley and Arisha Hatch, vice president and chief of campaigns at Color of Change, published an op-ed in Grio calling on President Biden to use his executive order authority to cancel up to $50,000 in student loan debt per borrower.
- On December 8, 2021, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, Senator Elizabeth Warren, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer sent a bicameral letter to President Joe Biden releasing new data about the adverse impact of restarting student loan payments and calling on him to act to cancel up to $50,000 of student debt.
- On December 2, 2021, Congresswoman Pressley delivered remarks on the House floor in which she reiterated her calls for President Biden to cancel $50,000 in federal student loan debt by executive action.
- On October 8, 2021, Representatives Ayanna Pressley and Ilhan Omar and their House colleagues sent a letter to President Biden and Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona urging him to release the memo to determine the extent of the administration’s authority to broadly cancel student debt through administrative action.
- On July 29, 2021, Congresswoman Pressley issued a statement reaffirming President Biden’s authority – and the urgency – to cancel student loan debt.
- On June 23, 2021, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Congressman Joe Courtney led their colleagues on a bicameral letter to President Biden calling on him to extend the pause on federal student loan payments.
- On April 13, 2021, Congresswoman Pressley testified at a Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Economic Policy hearing to examine the student loan debt crisis in our country.
- On April 1, 2021, Congresswoman Pressley, along with Senator Elizabeth Warren and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, held a press conference calling President Biden to tackle the student loan debt crisis.
- On February 4, 2021, Congresswoman Pressley, along with several Democratic House and Senate leaders, led their colleagues in reintroducing a bicameral resolution outlining a bold plan for President Biden to tackle the student loan debt crisis.
- On December 17, 2020, Representatives Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, Maxine Waters, and Alma Adams introduced a resolution outlining a bold plan for President-elect Joe Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in Federal student loan debt for student loan borrowers.
- On December 10, 2020, Congresswoman Pressley was in Yahoo Finance urging the Biden administration to cancel student debt, stressing the impact on Black borrowers.
- On May 8, 2020, Representatives Ayanna Pressley, Alma Adams, and Ilhan Omar, led 28 of their colleagues and sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy calling for the universal, one-time, student debt cancellation of at least $30,000 per borrower in the next round of COVID-19 relief legislation.
- On March 23, 2020, Representatives Ayanna Pressley and Ilhan Omar introduced the Student Debt Emergency Relief Act, legislation that provides immediate monthly payment relief for federal student loan borrowers.
- On March 17, 2020, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley and Senator Elizabeth Warren were on The Hill calling on congressional leadership to include student debt cancellation in the next coronavirus relief package.
- On October 11, 2019, Congresswoman Pressley introduced legislation – the Ending Debt Collection Harassment Act – to protect consumers from abusive debt collection.
- On July 17, 2019, Congresswomen Pressley introduced legislation – the Student Borrower Credit Improvement Act – to provide much needed support to private student loan borrowers with a pathway to financial stability by helping them improve their credit.