To the Editor:
Your article on the U.S. Department of Education's new debt-management system ("Department's New Debt-Management System Leaves Some Students Stuck in Default," The Chronicle, December 9) does little to boost confidence in the department's ability to manage student-loan-repayment data. This latest failure follows the department's admission earlier this year that they incorrectly calculated three-year student-loan default rates.
Many in higher education are troubled by the repeated mismanagement and publication of erroneous data by the department. Your article points to consequences of the new debt-management system, the delay of the appearance of accurate data, higher loan payments, and negative impact on students' credit scores.
Despite all these issues, the department continues to take its headstrong approach when it comes to its new gainful-employment regulation. The regulation uses privacy-protected data to calculate student earnings, which means the data can never be checked or verified by anyone outside the department or the Social Security Administration. At the financial-aid conference the department held last month, officials said they were going to proceed with plans to publish draft gainful-employment statistics this spring even though they know they do not have all the data and some of the data might be incorrect and never corrected. The department's failures and nontransparent policies will only hurt student opportunities and outcomes. The department should go back to square one and create a transparent gainful-employment regulation, then create a system for managing student debt that puts students first.
Coalition for Educational Success