Published: October 2016

ED’s complaint database a useful tool for students, but improvements could be made

President Obama’s Student Aid Bill of Rights directed the Education Department to implement an efficient and responsive complaint system to increase both accountability and transparency in higher education. Launched to the public last summer, the database serves as a useful tool for students and whistleblowers that holds colleges, loan servicers and collectors accountable, and prevents waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer dollars. However, advocates are pushing for system improvements to be made before the end of the year. These changes include making complaints public; seamlessly coordinating government agencies that manage complaint databases; and holding contractors accountable when the complainant is not satisfied with the resolution.

Consumer Action and 55 organizations sent a letter to President Obama on behalf of students, consumers, veterans, servicemembers, faculty and staff, civil rights, and college access about the Department of Education’s complaint system. We thanked the Administration for its work to create the system and improve it by connecting it to Federal Trade Commission’s Sentinel database. We also ask that the Administration commit to improving the system in the following ways by the end of the year:

1.  Make the complaint system public, searchable, and easy to find, including optional consumer complaint narratives.

2.  Create seamless coordination between government entities that run complaint systems.

3.  Improve complaint resolution by holding contractors accountable for meaningfully and efficiently addressing complaints and reviewing complaints when users are not satisfied

Lead Organization

The Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS)

Other Organizations

Air Force Sergeants Association (AFSA) | American Association of University Women (AAUW) | American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) | American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO | Americans for Financial Reform | Center for Public Interest Law of the University of San Diego | Center for Responsible Lending | Children's Advocacy Institute of the University of San Diego | Consumer Action | Consumer Federation of California | Consumers Union | Council for Opportunity in Education | Demos | East Bay Community Law Center | The Education Trust | Empire Justice Center | Equal Justice Works | Generation Progress | Government Accountability Project (GAP) | The Greenlining Institute | Higher Ed, Not Debt | Housing and Economic Rights Advocates | Initiative to Protect Student Veterans | The Institute for College Access & Success | League of United Latin American Citizens | Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition | NAACP | National Association for College Admission Counseling | National Association of Consumer Advocates | National Consumer Law Center (on behalf of its low-income clients) | National Consumers League | National Women Veterans Association of America | NCLR (National Council of La Raza) | New York Legal Assistance Group | One Wisconsin Now | Progress Virginia | Project on Predatory Student Lending of the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School | Public Advocates Inc. | Public Citizen | Public Counsel | Public Good Law Center | Public Law Center | Service Employees International Union | Student Debt Crisis | Student Veterans of America | U.S. PIRG | United States Student Association | University of San Diego School of Law Veterans Legal Clinic | Veterans Education Success | Veterans for Common Sense | Veterans' Student Loan Relief Fund | VetJobs VetsFirst, a program of United Spinal Association | Vietnam Veterans of America | Woodstock Institute | Young Invincibles

More Information

For more information, please visit TICAS.

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ED’s complaint database a useful tool for students, but improvements could be made   (ed_complaint_system.pdf)




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