There is hereby established a special commission created for the purpose of studying and making recommendations concerning the impact of proprietary schools receiving public investments in the form of federal and state financial aid on residents of the Commonwealth who are or have been enrolled in these institutions. The commission shall consist of 16 members: 1 of whom shall be the undersecretary of consumer affairs and business regulations or his designee, who shall serve as chair; 1 of whom shall be the commissioner of higher education or his designee; 1 of whom shall be the commissioner of the board of elementary and secondary education or his designee; 1 of whom shall be the attorney general or her designee; 2 of whom shall be the house and senate chairs of the joint committee on consumer protection and professional licensure; 1 of whom shall be appointed by the speaker of the house; 1 of whom shall be appointed by the senate president; 1 of whom shall be appointed by the minority leader of the house; 1 of whom shall be appointed by the minority leader of the senate; 1 of whom shall be a representative of the Crittenton Women’s Union; 1 of whom shall be a representative of The Midas Collaborative. Four members shall be appointed by the undersecretary of consumer affairs and business regulations; 1 of whom shall be a representative of the general public who was enrolled or is currently enrolled in a for-profit college or proprietary institution in the Commonwealth, 2 of whom shall represent proprietary schools, including one accredited school that is eligible to receive state and federal aid and one that is non-accredited and ineligible to receive state and federal aid and 1 of whom shall represent a consumer advocacy group such as MassPIRG.
The commission shall include, but not be limited to, review of the organization of proprietary school oversight in Massachusetts; studying and making of recommendations for possible consolidation of oversight authority into a single entity or other efforts to provide increased oversight; examination of the need for improved financial auditing procedures and improved enforcement of relevant Massachusetts consumer protection laws, including, but not limited to, the areas of advertising, recruitment, retention, financial aid practices, credit transfer practices, and fees or penalties; an assessment of the adequacy of free or low-cost loan counseling and legal support for Massachusetts residents in default on student loans; research into the need for increased consumer education about proprietary schools and the financial responsibilities associated with student loans; drafting recommendations to provide consumers with greater transparency regarding schools’ compliance with state and federal laws, loan default rate, or schools which have been sanctioned in Massachusetts or in other states; making recommendations with regard to requiring counseling of students considering financing their proprietary school education in-part with loans.
The commission shall be empowered to hold regular public meetings, fact-finding hearings, and other public forums, as it considers necessary.
The commission shall file its recommendations, together with recommendations for legislation, if any, with the house and senate clerks who shall forward the same to the general court no later than 2 years after the passage of this act. The commission shall file a progress report, along with any recommendations for legislation prepared by that time, no later than 1 year after passage of this act.
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