WASHINGTON (Oct. 12, 2016) — Rep. Luke Messer (IN-06) is urging the U.S. Department of Education to restore Pell Grant eligibility to approximately 16,000 students nationwide who were using the grants to attend ITT Technical Institute when it abruptly closed last month.
Federal Pell Grants are provided to low-income students pursuing postsecondary education, and lifetime eligibility for the need-based grants is limited.
The Department of Education is currently telling former ITT Tech students it will not restore or “reset” their Pell Grant eligibility, leaving many of these students with few options to finish their degrees.
“For many low-income students, Pell Grants are their best shot to attend college and secure a better future for themselves,” Messer said. “ITT Tech closed largely at the hand of federal bureaucrats at the Education Department, and for them to now leave these students high-and-dry is a disgrace.”
In a letter sent to the Education Department, Messer urged the Department to immediately reverse its decision so that these students are not harmed and questioned why the Department is not using its statutory authority to take such action.
According to U.S. House of Representatives legal counsel, Section 437(c)(3) of the Higher Education Act requires the Education Department to restore Pell Grant benefits for students who are unable to complete their course of study due to the closure of an institution.
“It’s frustrating that the Department did not do its homework to ensure students were protected and had options before taking action against ITT Tech,” Messer said. “Students should not be blamed for this closure, and we must do everything we can to ensure they have the opportunity to continue their education.”
Based in Indiana, ITT Tech operated 130 campuses nationwide and served about 40,000 students when it announced on Sept. 6, 2016 that it would close. The announcement followed an Aug. 25 decision by the Education Department to prohibit the institution from enrolling new students using federal student aid.
Messer has also authored a bill that would allow veterans to recover their GI Bill educational benefits if they were using their benefits at a college or university that closes, preventing them from completing their degree.
The bill (H.R. 6003) would apply to the nearly 7,000 veterans who were enrolled at ITT Tech at the time it closed.Read More
WASHINGTON (Friday, Oct. 7, 2016) — Rep. Luke Messer (IN-06) issued the following statement today following news that Lawrenceburg, Ind. could be the site of Indiana’s fourth port:
“This is great news. Building a port in this region would transform our local economy, connecting more Hoosier industry with the world marketplace. This would be a boon to existing agriculture and manufacturing companies, and it would also draw more 21st-century job creators to our communities. World-class transit and logistics options are as key to job growth as low taxes and less burdensome regulation. I thank local and state leaders for helping make southeast Indiana a great place to invest and grow.”
The Ports of Indiana announced yesterday that it has identified a possible site in Lawrenceburg, Ind. for use as the state’s fourth port. More information can be found here.
Messer represents Lawrenceburg as part of the 6th Congressional District.Read More
Two-thirds of Americans oppose taxpayer funded abortion. In this era of divided politics, there are few issues on which so many people agree.
On September 30, 1976, this bipartisan consensus became the law of the land when the Hyde Amendment passed the House of Representatives. Its impact on our nation has been lasting and profound.
The Hyde Amendment stands as a pillar in pro-life policy, but also as a reflection of the will of millions of Americans on an issue over which common ground is hard to find. Unfortunately, in what would be an unprecedented move, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has called for the Hyde Amendment’s repeal. That would be a giant mistake.
The Hyde Amendment acknowledges a shared recognition that abortion is not just another medical procedure. The truth is even most pro-choice Americans believe abortion should be rare. When you fund something, you make it more likely to occur. The Hyde Amendment blocks government funding so that it doesn’t encourage the practice of abortion.
The results of this policy are striking. Since the Hyde Amendment took effect, research from the Lozier Institute indicates that it has prevented more than two million abortions. The number of lives saved is roughly equivalent to the populations of Rhode Island and Delaware combined.
The Hyde Amendment also respects Americans deep, moral beliefs about abortion. This is an issue of conscience. That's why Americans overwhelmingly believe their fellow taxpayers, many with deeply held convictions on the issue, should not be forced to fund the procedure.
The Hyde Amendment is morally appropriate, politically responsible and it saves lives. But it is not perfect. First of all, it is not permanent law. Each year, Congress must re-pass the Hyde Amendment language in an annual legislative drama. There are also loopholes and workarounds that need to be addressed.
The Hyde Amendment should be made permanent and its principles applied throughout each federal measure dealing with healthcare. I will continue to fight to expand the Hyde Amendment and for other policy changes that preserve life. We cannot let Hillary Clinton or any other politician abandon our progress on this issue.Read More
WASHINGTON (Sept. 29, 2016) — Rep. Luke Messer (IN-06) today joined committee members in questioning Wells Fargo Chairman and CEO, John Stumpf, about apparent widespread fraud in which company employees opened as many as two million false accounts using customer information and funds.
Since 2011, 5,300 Wells Fargo employees have been fired due to unethical behavior, none of whom were senior managers or executives.
The House Financial Services Committee, which Messer serves on, held a hearing today aimed at holding the company and its executives accountable for this alleged fraud perpetrated against Wells Fargo customers over the past five years.
“The American people want answers,” Messer said. “How could 5,000 employees rig the system without any alarm bells going off? And, how will Wells Fargo make this right for all the customers whose credit ratings are now at risk?”
Wells Fargo employees are accused of opening accounts in customers’ names without their authorization from 2011-2015, and taking other illegal and unethical actions such as transferring funds from existing customers’ accounts to temporarily fund others.
Earlier this month, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the Office of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the City and County of Los Angeles entered into a settlement agreement with Wells Fargo over these allegations, fining the bank $185 million. Wells Fargo must pay an additional $5 million in customer remediation, which includes at least $2.5 million the bank has already refunded customers, averaging $25 per account.
But questions have been raised about the thoroughness and timeliness of the CFPB’s investigation into this matter, Messer said, noting it took years to uncover this fraud scheme.
“The CFPB is charged with protecting American consumers,” Messer said. “Right now, we don’t know whether they deserve praise or a share of the blame.”
The House Financial Services Committee is conducting a full investigation of Wells Fargo’s banking practices to determine how this fraud occurred, if customers were fully compensated, how it will be prevented in the future and who will be held accountable. The committee will also investigate CFPB’s role in the matter.Read More
WASHINGTON (Sept. 27, 2016) — Legislation passed by the U.S. House of Representatives to ban additional synthetic drugs, including deadly fentanyl, will give law enforcement more tools to fight the drug abuse and overdose crisis plaguing Indiana, Rep. Luke Messer (IN-06) said.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 3537 yesterday, which would add 22 synthetic substances to Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). The substances include various versions of the synthetic opioid fentanyl and other compounds that mirror the effects of heroin and other illegal drugs.
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), fentanyl is 50 times more powerful than heroin. The synthetic opioid caused 75 overdose deaths in Indiana and Ohio in the span of one week in August.
“Synthetic drugs continue to flood into our communities, taking Hoosier lives as our state battles widespread addiction,” Messer said. “These cooked-up, laboratory concoctions are often deadlier than the drugs they are trying to mimic, and the results are disastrous. Indiana has been aggressive in passing state legislation to outlaw these lethal substances, and an improved federal ban will bolster those efforts and hopefully save lives.”
Indiana’s state law, enacted in 2012, bans synthetic drugs and their look-alike compounds.
H.R. 3537 would also criminalize the sale, manufacture, import and distribution of these drugs. The legislation must now pass the U.S. Senate and be signed by the president to become law.Read More
WASHINGTON (Sept. 15, 2016) — Congressman Luke Messer (IN-06) offered the following statement today on the passing of Indiana philanthropist and business leader, Dean White:
“The entire state of Indiana mourns the loss of Hoosier icon Dean White,” Messer said. “Dean was an extraordinary business man and philanthropist who, despite his many accomplishments, never lost his Hoosier humility and common sense. He will be missed.”
Dean White is credited with playing a critical role in the development of downtown Indianapolis, making it a tourism and convention hub. He made similar investments to improve other areas of the state, including his home in Northwest Indiana.Read More
WASHINGTON (Sept. 13, 2016) — Reps. Luke Messer (IN-06), Todd Young (IN-09), Jackie Walorski (IN-02) and other members of the Indiana congressional delegation filed legislation today to assist veterans harmed by the recent closure of ITT Technical Institute.
ITT Tech ceased operations last week, closing 130 campuses nationwide and impacting an estimated 40,000 students, including nearly 7,000 veterans.
While current federal law allows students to have their federal student loans discharged if they are unable to complete a degree program due to the closure of an institution, there is no similar provision for veterans who used GI Bill educational benefits to pursue a degree.
“Thousands of veterans invested their time and educational benefits to attend ITT Tech, and now they are left without a degree or path forward,” Messer said. “As part of our enduring commitment to America’s veterans, we must be ready to assist the servicemen and women who use their benefits to pursue a degree at an institution that has failed.”
H.R. 6003 would allow veterans to recover their GI Bill educational benefits if they were using their benefits at a college or university that closes, preventing them from completing their degree. The bill would apply to all veterans who were enrolled at ITT Tech at the time it closed.
“The veterans impacted by ITT Tech’s closure deserve an immediate resolution,” Young said. “The first item on our Congressional checklist must be to make these veterans whole, with no justification for delay. It is my hope to see our legislation move swiftly to passage, as it guarantees every single veteran receives, in full, the education they earned.”
“Our veterans fought to defend the American Dream for all of us – we can’t let them lose their own shot at the American Dream,” Walorski said. “We have a responsibility to help veterans who, because of circumstances beyond their control, have been left without the degree they were working toward. This bill ensures they can make full use of the benefits they earned.”
Indiana Reps. Susan Brooks (IN-05), Larry Bucshon (IN-08) and Todd Rokita (IN-04) are also sponsoring the bill.
“GI bill education benefits are a promise that we make to the brave men and women who serve our country, and it’s one that our nation must keep,” said Brooks, in whose district ITT Tech was formerly based. “The opportunity to further your education and develop the skills and expertise for a career after the military is an opportunity that our veterans earn through service. This bill makes sure that every veteran has this opportunity, and protects our veterans when an institution of higher education closes. We owe it to our servicemen and women.”
Student Veterans of America voiced its support for H.R. 6003.
"Student Veterans of America fully supports Congressman Messer's Bill to reinstate lost GI Bill benefits due to a school closure. It is incomprehensible that a veteran would lose this benefit due to an institution's collapse. We at SVA applaud Congressman Messer in leading the way to protect student veterans across the nation," said Derek Fronabarger, Director of Policy with Student Veterans of America.
Messer also sent a letter to the Department of Education last week demanding more information about the potential sale of ITT Tech’s campuses, other proposals offered by ITT Tech to reimburse students, and what actions are being taken by the Education Department to protect taxpayers.
The Department of Education created a webpage to provide information and assistance to ITT Tech students here.Read More
WASHINGTON (Sept. 9, 2016) — Congressman Luke Messer (IN-06) is working to ensure students and American taxpayers aren’t completely on the hook for an estimated $500 million in unpaid federal loans taken out by students of the now defunct ITT Technical Institute.
On Tuesday, Carmel, Ind.-based ITT Tech announced it discontinued operations and plans to close its 130 campuses across the country. The announcement followed an Aug. 25 decision by the Education Department to prohibit the institution from enrolling new students using federal student aid due to financial accountability concerns.
Messer, who serves on the U.S. House Education and Workforce Committee, sent a letter to the Education Department demanding more information about what the Department and ITT Tech plan to do about these outstanding loans.
Under current law, students who are defrauded by an educational institution or are unable to complete a degree program due to the closure of an institution can apply to have their federal student loans discharged.
“My first priority is making sure we offer help to the students who borrowed thousands of dollars to invest in their futures, thinking they would walk away with a valuable education and degree,” Messer said. “But this will come at a high cost, and American taxpayers should not be stuck with the entire bill.”
In his letter, Messer asked the Education Department for information about the potential sale of ITT Tech’s campuses, other proposals offered by ITT Tech to reimburse students, and what actions are being taken by the Education Department to protect taxpayers.
Messer is also working on legislation that would specifically assist veterans who used their GI Bill educational benefits at ITT Tech, or institutions facing similar circumstances. ITT Tech is known to have aggressively recruited veterans into its degree programs.
“Many veterans rely on GI Bill benefits to help them secure a livelihood after service,” Messer said. “If they used their benefits to pursue a degree at a failed institution, we must be ready to assist those service men and women and make them whole as part of our enduring commitment to America's veterans.”
The Department of Education created a webpage to provide information and assistance to ITT Tech students here.Read More
For centuries, scholars have said "knowledge is power." In the computer age, we say "information is king." Both phrases highlight the importance of knowing the facts before making big decisions.
The same principals unequivocally apply to student borrowing. As education costs continue to rise, students must know precisely the cost of education when deciding whether and where to go to college.
Average student loan debt tripled over the last two decades. According to the U.S. Department of Education, in 1992-93, about half of bachelor’s degree recipients graduated with total debt averaging slightly more than $10,000. This year, more than two-thirds of college graduates will graduate with total debt exceeding $35,000. In fact, total student loan debt now exceeds $1 trillion nationally and accounts for more personal debt than credit cards or auto loans.
The results are changing the living patterns of an entire generation. Millennials are being forced to forgo or postpone home ownership, and they are delaying marriage and child bearing like never before.
Worse yet, a recent study by the Brookings Institute found that roughly half of all first-year students in the U.S. seriously underestimate how much debt they have. About 14 percent of students who have loans think they don’t have any debt at all.
This lack of information is unacceptable. While current federal law requires colleges and universities to provide financial counseling to borrowers at the beginning and end of their studies, there are no requirements for counseling while students are in school – when they are actually taking out loans.
Recognizing this problem, Indiana University (IU) launched a program in 2012 to educate its students about their debt and its post-graduate implications. The University sent annual letters to every student estimating their total loan debt and future monthly payments. Four years later, officials at IU say federal student loan borrowing by its students has dropped by 23 percent.
Inspired by this success, Indiana, Wisconsin and Nebraska passed state laws requiring institutions within their states to send similar letters to students.
All U.S. students deserve this information. That’s why I introduced the Letter of Estimated Annual Debt for Students Act otherwise known as the “LEADS Act.” Modeled after the IU program, the bipartisan bill requires higher education institutions that accept federal aid to send an annual letter to every student estimating their total loan debt and future monthly payments.
Knowledge is power. And, it’s past time to empower students to make better-informed decisions about their education, finances and future. IU's program shows that if you warn students about the dangers of borrowing, they borrow less.
Millennials are smart and savvy. They deserve information to make the best decisions possible. And, in the end, less student loan debt is a better result for almost everybody.Read More
WASHINGTON (July 25, 2016) - Congressman Luke Messer (IN-06) recently introduced H.R. 5867, the National Strategy for School Security Act of 2016. This bill would require the Departments of Homeland Security and Education to create a national strategy to help schools protect themselves against acts of terrorism and other emergencies.
Sadly, schools across our country have become a soft target for disturbed individuals seeking to attack vulnerable populations. And, with the growing influence and reach of terrorist organizations like ISIS, our elementary and secondary schools are increasingly susceptible to terrorist threats. Yet astonishingly, the federal government has yet to put forth a standardized security strategy to help protect schools against these horrific acts.
In fact, according to a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, collaboration between federal agencies to prevent and mitigate attacks on American schools has been wholly inadequate. The report recommended a higher level of interagency cooperation on school emergency preparedness to help schools prepare for and mitigate disasters, including natural disasters, school shootings, and acts of terrorism. Messer's bill is an attempt to address these concerns.
"We shouldn’t wait for ISIS to attack an elementary school before we put in place a viable, national strategy for school security that could help prevent a catastrophe,” Congressman Messer said. “While senseless tragedies like those in Newtown and Columbine have few easy answers, there are legitimate policy changes that could help prevent similar attacks in the future. Crafting a strategy that puts everyone on the same page is an important first step.”
508 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Luke Messer is the Congressman for Indiana’s 6th Congressional District, a 19 county region of east-central and southeastern Indiana comprised of manufacturing and agricultural communities. Elected President of the Freshman Class by his peers, Messer serves on the House Committees on Budget, Foreign Affairs, and Education & the Workforce.
Congressman Messer is a 6th-generation Hoosier and national advocate for limited government, fiscal discipline, a strong national defense, and traditional values. Messer opposes bailouts, government takeovers and runaway federal spending.
Prior to his service in Congress, Luke Messer gained experience as a lawyer and former two-term State Representative working with Governor Daniels on budget issues as a Member of the Indiana House Ways & Means Committee. Messer is an accomplished education reformer: authoring nationally recognized high school drop-out reform legislation in the Indiana Statehouse and serving in the private sector as the President and CEO of the Hoosiers for Economic Growth Network & School Choice Indiana.
Raised by a single-mom who still works at a factory in Greensburg Indiana, Luke Messer was taught the value of hard work at an early age. He worked his way through school with jobs that included collecting garbage, mowing lawns, waiting tables, telemarketing and umpiring baseball games. Eventually, Messer graduated summa cum laude & Phi Beta Kappa from Wabash College. Luke earned his law degree at Vanderbilt University where he also served on the Law Review.
Luke and his wife Jennifer have two daughters, one son and three dogs. Luke has also served as an elder at his church and is the author of a children’s book about Indiana entitled “Hoosier Heart.”
Retweeted by RepLukeMesser
ICYMI: GOP lawmaker seeks Pell Grant restoration for ITT Tech students https://t.co/Uzx1g00vF0
Gym class in Indiana. Thanks Mays Community Academy for a great visit today! https://t.co/UVcvMXUef7
Mays Community Academy charter school in Rush County is providing innovative, quality education to students. Another example of #schoolchoice
ICYMI: GOP lawmaker seeks Pell Grant restoration for ITT Tech students
Honored to be named Friend of the Farm Bureau and to visit with farmers in Milroy, IN. They keep our local economy and community strong. Indiana
Great trip to Muncie last week -- meeting with our community credit unions and recognizing dedicated employers in our region.
I am calling on the Dept. of Education to protect students impacted in ITT Tech closure and ensure they have a chance to finish their education.