Establishes the office of student assistance and relief, which aids postsecondary education students and prospective students in advancing and promoting their rights, and also is available to help obtain relief for students who attend an institution which is closing.
STATE OF NEW YORK
2019-2020 Regular Sessions
June 15, 2019
Introduced by M. of A. EPSTEIN -- read once and referred to the Commit-
tee on Higher Education
AN ACT to amend the education law, in relation to establishing the
office of student assistance and relief
The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assem-bly, do enact as follows:
1 Section 1. The education law is amended by adding a new article 14-B
2 to read as follows:
3 ARTICLE 14-B
4 OFFICE OF STUDENT ASSISTANCE AND RELIEF
5 Section 696. Office of student assistance and relief.
6 697. Director and staff employees; qualifications.
7 698. Duties.
8 699. Provided services for students who have attended an insti-
9 tution which is closing.
10 700. Reporting.
11 § 696. Office of student assistance and relief. 1. There is hereby
12 created an office of student assistance and relief. The office shall be
13 responsible for advancing and promoting the rights of prospective
14 students, current students, or past students of private post-secondary
15 education institutions.
16 2. For purposes of this section, "post-secondary education institu-
17 tion" or "institution" shall mean any institution providing education at
18 a level higher than high school or high school equivalent.
19 § 697. Director and staff employees; qualifications. 1. The head of
20 the office of student assistance and relief shall be a director, who
21 shall be appointed by the commissioner.
22 2. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the director shall have
23 the authority to fill staff positions within the office by new hire or
24 by promotion open to state employees who possess the minimum qualifica-
25 tions for such staff positions.
EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
 is old law to be omitted.
A. 8354 2
1 3. The director, and each staff employee of the office, shall have
2 experience and expertise, commensurate with his or her position, advo-
3 cating on behalf of students and shall have knowledge of any applicable
4 federal and state laws which govern student protection, student finan-
5 cial aid and loan programs and the policies and practices of private
6 post-secondary educational institutions.
7 § 698. Duties. The office of student assistance and relief shall be
8 tasked with the following duties:
9 1. To conduct outreach and provide information and assistance to
10 students who have been affected by the unlawful activities or closure of
11 an institution regarding their rights under state and federal law,
12 including information about how and where to file a complaint, and to
13 ensure that those students are able to successfully access available
14 state and federal relief programs.
15 2. To serve as a primary point of contact to address the needs of
16 private post-secondary education students and work in conjunction with
17 state and federal agencies, including, but not limited to, the depart-
18 ment, the state university of New York, the city university of New York,
19 the department of financial services, the division of veterans' affairs,
20 the federal consumer financial protection bureau and the United States
21 department of education.
22 3. To provide post-secondary education students and prospective
23 students with information on:
24 (a) making informed decisions in selecting post-secondary education
26 (b) student's rights regarding school performance disclosures, enroll-
27 ment agreements, and cancellation and refund policies;
28 (c) contact information for students to contact the office for assist-
29 ance with any questions a student may have;
30 (d) student loans and assistance; and
31 (e) free non-profit community based resources available to students or
32 prospective students.
33 4. To conduct data and information research relating to industry
34 trends and enforcement actions from various educational sources, includ-
35 ing, but not limited to, annual reports issued by the United States
36 department of education and state and private accrediting agencies, to
37 help determine such trends and potential violations of student rights.
38 The office shall provide an annual report advising the commissioner of
39 its findings.
40 § 699. Provided services for students who have attended an institution
41 which is closing. The office of student assistance and relief shall
42 provide individualized assistance to post-secondary education students
43 to relieve or mitigate the economic and educational opportunity loss
44 incurred by such students who attended an institution that is closing.
45 The office shall provide specifically the following services:
46 1. outreach to post-secondary education students who have been
47 affected indicating what assistance shall be available through the
49 2. screening requests for assistance received by the office; and
50 3. individualized assistance to help post-secondary education
52 (a) determine a student's relief eligibility;
53 (b) identify and obtain necessary documents for relief eligibility;
54 (c) complete and submit applications for relief; and
55 (d) gain access to any other additional services as necessary.
A. 8354 3
1 § 700. Reporting. 1. The office of student assistance and relief shall
2 provide a quarterly report on the office's website which details the
4 (a) a summary of the outreach and education activities conducted by
5 the office pursuant to the requirements of section six hundred ninety-
6 nine of this article and the number of students served by institutions
7 which are closing; and
8 (b) a summary of the total service provided to post-secondary educa-
9 tion students and prospective students, with respect to the following:
10 (i) the number of students or prospective students assisted with
11 submitting federal loan forgiveness claims, and of the claims submitted,
12 the number of such claims which are pending, on appeal, or have been
13 approved or denied. For the claims that have been approved, the office
14 shall report the estimated total amount in student loans which have been
15 cancelled or forgiven and the total amount of funds refunded to
17 (ii) the number of students assisted with private student loan relief
18 and a summary of assistance and the number of relief outcomes obtained;
20 (iii) the number of students assisted with obtaining income-dependent
21 repayment plans on such students' federal loans, and of those students
22 who have been assisted, the number of students assisted with gaining
23 relief from default of such federal loans through consolidation or reha-
25 2. The office shall provide the legislature with a summarized final
26 report consisting of a consolidation of the required annual reports
27 pursuant to this section annually, by the first of January.
28 § 2. This act shall take effect immediately.