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Their appointments come as the Department of Education has extended the deadline for vocational schools and community colleges that provide vocational training to submit appeals under the gainful employment rule. The controversial regulation threatens to suspend federal financial aid to institutions whose graduates are unable to earn enough to repay their student loans.

For-profit colleges lobbied against the rule for years, arguing that it unfairly targets the sector and would ultimately hurt the low-income students they educate. Their protests have fallen on deaf ears under the Obama administration, but the Trump administration and congressional Republicans have picked up the slack with promises to roll back the rule.

In his letter, Warren questions the timing of the extension and Hansen’s hiring because he lobbied against the payoff rule, according to the Senate Public Records Office lobbying disclosure databases. She said her “recent work history clearly calls into question her impartiality in dealing with higher education matters at the Ministry of Education and raises alarming issues of conflict of interest”.

Hansen, she added, may also have other conflicts of interest related to the student loan program because her father, Bill Hansen, is president of United Student Aid Funds, a company that collects student loan debt. The company, now known as Strada Education Network, is suing the Department of Education for preventing it from charging defaulters a fee of up to 16% of the principal and accrued interest owed on the loans. The lawsuit is now moot because the department revoked its own guidelines on the matter last week.

Department of Education spokesman Jim Bradshaw said Hansen resigned on Friday, which Bloomberg first reported on Monday. Bradshaw said Hansen served “without conflict and decided his service had run its course.”

Trump signed a Executive Decree in January that requires political appointees to refrain from involvement in matters relating to their former employer or clients, including regulations and contracts, for two years.

But Warren said Hansen and Eitel’s appointment, coupled with recent education agency announcements, “call into question whether the Department of Education is adequately complying” with Trump’s order.

The Education Department maintains that Eitel consulted with the agency’s ethics officer before agreeing to join the department and has had several follow-up meetings since then. Eitel has recused himself from any matters involving Bridgepoint, including anything related to the win rule, according to the department.

Eitel was working at Bridgepoint, which owns Ashford University and the University of the Rockies, when the company agreed to a $32 million settlement with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The watchdog forced the company to repay and discharge $24 million in debt the students had accrued through an internal loan scheme that allegedly misled borrowers about the total cost of the loans.

In February, the Department of Education’s inspector general determined that Bridgepoint owed the department a $300,000 fine for miscalculating federal aid reimbursement for Ashford students, according to a regulatory filing. The company can appeal the inspector general’s audit directly to DeVos, but department officials say Eitel will have no role in the case since he recused himself from anything related. the company.

Bridgepoint spokeswoman Marianne Perez said Eitel had no influence over company business and no work-related communications with employees while on leave.

Publicly listed, for-profit colleges have clashed with state and federal regulators over allegations of steering students toward high-cost loans, misleading consumers about their programs and aggressive marketing tactics . The scrutiny, coupled with government lawsuits and declining student enrollment, has put enormous pressure on the sector. But the election of Trump, who has campaigned to cut regulation in all sectors, has boosted for-profit colleges’ share as Wall Street anticipates weakening federal rules and oversight of the sector.

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