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Advocates Call on DeVos to Release Performance Metrics for Scandal-Plagued Office of Federal Student Aid

Student Defense and American Oversight today called on Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to publicly release the legally-required performance plans for the Chief Operating Officer of Federal Student Aid (FSA). During Secretary DeVos’s tenure, FSA has been plagued by serious allegations of mismanagement and incompetence. The Office’s poor performance has led to significant harm to students as well as a federal judge finding DeVos in contempt for violating a court order.

“Federal Student Aid has a huge impact on the lives of 45 million student loan borrowers, and yet we know very little about how the Department of Education is evaluating its performance,” said Student Defense President Aaron Ament. “What we do know is that under Secretary DeVos, FSA has overseen historic loan servicing breakdowns, and most recently has failed to implement borrower protections established by the CARES Act. Secretary DeVos should immediately release the performance plans as required under the law, and should further publish any evaluations of the Chief Operating Officer and any records of bonus payments or other incentive compensation.”

“It’s not at all shocking that the Department of Education has failed to comply with a simple transparency law to make these performance plans public,” said Austin Evers, executive director at American Oversight. “This administration has disregarded basic systems oversight and seized every opportunity to be a friend of for-profit colleges and the student loan industry. Despite an attitude of impunity, the law is abundantly clear. It’s time for the Department of Education to meet its basic legal obligations.”

The Higher Education Act requires the Secretary of Education and the Chief Operating Officer of FSA to enter into an annual performance agreement, “that shall set forth measurable organizational and individual goals for the Chief Operating Officer."  The law requires the performance agreement to be made publicly available, and while the Department’s website does have the performance agreements for prior fiscal years, no such update has been posted under DeVos.

The groups also submitted requests under the Freedom of Information Act, seeking any records relating to the performance plans. Those requests are available here and here.