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A08354 Summary:

Add Art 14-B §§696 - 700, Ed L
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.
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A08354 Actions:

06/15/2019referred to higher education
01/08/2020referred to higher education
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A08354 Text:

                STATE OF NEW YORK
                               2019-2020 Regular Sessions
                   IN ASSEMBLY
                                      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
     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
    25  institutions;
    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
    48  office;
    49    2. screening requests for assistance received by the office; and
    50    3.  individualized  assistance  to   help   post-secondary   education
    51  students:
    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
     3  following:
     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
    16  students;
    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;
    19  and
    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-
    24  bilitation.
    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.
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