While Senator Kamala Harris, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden's choice for vice president, doesn't have an extensive record on higher education issues, she is known for having sued Corinthian Colleges while she was California's attorney general, accusing the for-profit chain of false and predatory advertising, intentionally making misrepresentations to students, securities fraud and unlawful use of military seals in advertisements.
The 2014 lawsuit helped contribute to ECMC Group, a nonprofit organization, not including Corinthian's California properties when it purchased 56 campuses from the crumbling chain in 2014. And in 2016, Harris won a $1.1 billion federal court judgment from the now-bankrupt Corinthian.
While that lawsuit was underway, she asked a federal court to prevent Corinthian from enrolling new students. As attorney general and a Democratic senator from California, Harris has pushed for debt cancellation for former Corinthian students.
"I would imagine identifying relief for students who were victims of unlawful practices by for-profit colleges will be a priority for her," said Clare McCann, New America's deputy director for federal education policy. "That's obviously good news for the more than 100,000 borrowers who have pending claims, some of which have been sitting untouched by the Department for years."
Indeed, Harris wrote about her suit against Corinthian in her memoir last year, "The Truths We Hold." She wrote, "There have been a rash of corporate predators who have taken advantage of -- and often ruined -- vulnerable people. Among the worst examples of these predators are the for-profit colleges that became the darlings of Wall Street during this time."
In April, she and 16 other Democratic senators urged congressional leaders not to allow for-profit colleges to receive coronavirus aid aimed for higher education.
Harris in 2017 also endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders' College for All plan, which would make public colleges and universities tuition-free to students with family income up to $125,000; make community colleges tuition-free; cut student loan interest rates in half; and triple funding for the Federal Work-Study program. She also endorsed a proposal by Senator Brian Schatz, a Democrat from Hawaii, which would have made room and board, books and other college expenses free.
Harris last year also proposed with Democratic Senators Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts, and Dianne Feinstein, of California, the Basic Assistance for Students In College Act, which would have created a $500 million competitive grant program for institutions to fund the basic needs of students, including food, housing, transportation, child care, health care and technology.
Harris, a graduate of Howard University, last year proposed giving Historically Black Colleges and Universities $60 billion, with $50 billion going to fund scholarships, fellowships and research grants at HBCUs and another $10 billion to build classrooms, labs and other facilities at the schools. She also included in a plan on raising teachers' salaries this spring additional money for HBCUs to address the underrepresentation of teachers of color.