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Courtney Pushes Ed Secretary DeVos to Provide Resources and Relief for Ridley-Lowell Students

April 5, 2018
Press Release

(Norwich, CT) —Today, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02), a member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, sent a letter to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos calling on her to work quickly to provide resources and debt relief to the students and recent graduates of Ridley-Lowell Business & Technical Institute that closed without notice yesterday. Courtney’s office has also contacted the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to gather additional information for G.I. Bill beneficiaries.

“The sudden and stunning decision by Ridley-Lowell Business & Technical Institute to cease operations with no notice to students or staff screams out for action by the U.S. Department of Education and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs,” said Courtney. “Many of the students used federal student loans and grant programs to pay tuition, and it is imperative that the Dept. of Ed exercises its statutory authority to protect both taxpayers and the students who put their faith in this school’s promise of a certificate that would provide gainful employment. My letter is simply asking for the same swift action that has been used in the past with similar situations such as ITT Tech and Corinthian Colleges. As a member of House Education and the Workforce Committee, my office and committee staff will be aggressively pursuing relief for these students.”

Before abruptly closing its doors yesterday, Ridley-Lowell Business & Technical Institute offered medical and dental certifications. The school had two locations in Connecticut in New London and Danbury, as well locations in other states.

The full text of the letter is below and available online

April 5, 2018

The Honorable Betsy DeVos
Secretary of Education
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, S.W.

Washington, D.C. 20202

Dear Secretary DeVos:

As you may be aware, the Ridley-Lowell Business & Technical Institute—a certificate-granting institution with five campuses across three states, and a footprint in my district—closed abruptly on April 4. I urge the Department of Education (“Department”) to take swift action to ensure that these former students are aware of the resources that are available to them to help them continue their education, discharge their loans, or simply retrieve information from the school.

Ridley-Lowell is not the first institution to shutter its campuses overnight—in fact, the Federal Student Aid office lists thirty institutions on their website that have closed. We ask that Ridley-Lowell be immediately added to the list of closed institutions and that resources be made available as soon as possible to help current students and recent graduates know what options are available to them. Further, we ask that the Department provide student loan debt relief to current Ridley-Lowell students to the maximum extent possible. School closures can be financially devastating to student loan borrowers and their families and Department must do everything in its power to make these defrauded students whole.

The last time a higher education institution in my region closed, the Department posted resources including a schedule of webinars about the closure and what to do moving forward on their website within 48 hours. In the past, I have applauded the great lengths that the Department has gone to help former students of closed institutions move on with their education and their lives. I am hopeful that the Federal Student Aid office will mirror that effort with this most recent school closure so that Members of Congress may direct students and recent graduates to a single clearinghouse of resources.

I encourage the Department to work quickly to provide resources and, when appropriate, offer student loan debt relief to the students and recent graduates of Ridley-Lowell Business & Technical Institute. Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter.