Partner Sabita Soneji and Public Interest Fellow Leora Friedman recently authored a memo to the Student Borrower Protection Center (SBPC) analyzing the Student Loan Sunshine Act and suggesting methods by which there can and should be greater enforcement of the Act, including with qui tam actions.
As early as 2007, various news outlets reported upon exploitative lending arrangements whereby colleges and universities steered students towards specific lenders in exchange for travel and other perks. The Student Loan Sunshine Act of 2008 modified two federal laws to mitigate these arrangements, encompassing both accredited and unaccredited institutions with respect to obligations and disclosures for education-related loans and preferred lender arrangements (PLA). The Department of Education (DOE) and/or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) have some enforcement powers, but private individuals also have options to hold lenders and schools accountable, including False Claims Act litigation.
Sabita Soneji’s current qui tam practice and interest in student lending have their roots in her years of service in the Department of Justice, during which she worked on False Claims Act cases against for-profit schools engaged in misleading and deceptive practices. She also worked closely with the CFPB and the DOE on regulatory and policy changes to better protect students from such practices. In addition to her consumer class action and false claims practice, Ms. Soneji also serves as an inaugural fellow for the SBPC.
For Ms. Soneji’s and Ms. Friedman’s detailed legal analysis of the issues surrounding potentially exploitative educational lending arrangements, read their memo available on the Student Borrower Protection Center blog.