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Betsy DeVos Sued By 18 (!) States Over For-Profit College Rules


(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Washington D.C. and 18 other states are suing Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and the Education Department after DeVos’ choice to undo rules designed to aid students who have been defrauded by their colleges.

What Happened?

The Democratic state attorney generals allege that the Education Department is breaking the law by rolling back the Obama administration regulation, known as the “borrower defense” rule. This rule structures a process that helps students have their federal loans forgiven if they were defrauded by their schools.

Once the Obama administration had announced the rules, tens of thousands of students filed claims for loan forgiveness. Many of these claims came against disgraced for-profit colleges and many applications had already been approved.

Now, however, the process has been halted. Responding to a Freedom of Information Act request from BuzzFeed News, the Education Department revealed that it has not approved a single fraud claim since Donald Trump’s inauguration. Thousands of students who had already been granted forgiveness to their loans are still waiting.

Last month, DeVos said she would delay implementation of the rule completely, which was slated to go into effect on July 1. In a statement last month, DeVos said the borrower defense regulations were “muddled process that’s unfair to students and schools, and puts taxpayers on the hook for significant costs.”

Leading the suit against DeVos is Massachusetts attorney general Maura Healy. She said in a statement that DeVos had “sided with for-profit school executives against students.”

The Education Department pointed to a lawsuit by a for-profit college trade association as the reason it was delaying the implementation of the rule. However, the states suing DeVos retorted that she and the department are only using this as a “mere pretext” for replacing the rules. They argue that the Education Department cannot stop enforcing existing regulations that don’t align with their philosophy without due process.

Politico obtained internal documents that reveal the department had considered alternative explanations for the delate before landing on the lawsuit.

For-profit schools are largely against the regulations, as are other vulnerable universities such as historically black schools. These groups claim the regulations puts a financial burden on colleges without allowing them to effectively challenge any students claims of fraud against them.

On top of the load forgiveness, the regulation also attempts to hold colleges financially responsible if they defraud the students to remove the economic stress on taxpayers.

Betsy DeVos

Elisabeth Dee DeVos is an American businesswoman, politician, and activist who is the 11th and current United States Secretary of Education.

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