Two years after ITT Tech closed in 2016, many students are still scraping together the money to pay for student loans that covered exorbitant tuition costs. These students were manipulated by predatory claims and lied to about accreditation. Not only are their diplomas invalid – but they’re still paying for them.
When President Obama enacted the Borrower Defense to Loan Repayment in 2016, it was with these students in mind. The goal was to set up a system that would forgive the federal student loans of for-profit institutions that were marketed to students on false claims, like inflated employment numbers. In the final weeks of the Obama administration, Borrower Defense was awarded to former students of the family of schools under the Corinthian Colleges umbrella, including Everest, Heald, and WyoTech. However, in the two years since the Trump administration took hold – progress has slowed to a crawl.
A lawsuit filed by 19 states and the District of Columbia claim Betsy DeVos, the Secretary of Education is the one to blame.
DeVos is being sued for delaying loan repayment under borrower defense. Rather than moving forward with the existing legislation, DeVos has spent the past two years attempting to restructure the law. Multiple attempts at restructuring the repayment system have included only offering partial repayment, instead of the full repayment offered by the bill. Partial repayment is the ultimate goal for the DeVos camp. They have been attempting to create a new formula to define repayment schedules that would be based on the earnings of students who had attended the same university. However, the information on earnings was obtained illegally from the Social Security Administration.
The Department of Education, in trying to build this formula, shared information like social security numbers with the Social Security Administration to get the earnings of students who attended for-profit universities. This sharing of information is forbidden by the Privacy Act. As a result, a San Francisco judge put a halt on the process – which in turn put a freeze on building the partial repayment system.
DeVos has been a vocal opponent of Borrower Defense, saying that it was built improperly by the previous administration. As a result, it’s not fair for the taxpayers, the students, or the schools.
The schools, in particular, are who DeVos is fighting for.
This is evident in even the staff that she chooses to surround herself with. Heading the loan repayment team is a former dean of DeVry University – a for-profit university that has thousands of claims filed against it. Students from DeVry have been seeking loan repayment as they were promised more gainful employment after attending the university. Students who attended the university could have paid up to $89,000 with no promise of employment after graduation.
In June of this year, the Department of Education released a plan to roll back regulations on for-profit universities. The regulations were put in place by the Obama administration to attempt to prevent for-profit universities from targeting students with the same fraudulent claims that make someone eligible for borrower defense.
The attempt to gut these protections came after they were delayed by the Department of Education for a year after the current administration took office.
It’s clear that the current Department of Education is not interested in supporting the students of this country. From stripping money from the public school system to allowing predatory universities to thrive, DeVos has made it clear that she wants to continue the divisiveness of this country – especially on the battleground of education.
This policy spits in the face of the original intent of the Department of Education, that was founded under President Johnson’s war on poverty. The Department’s roots are in empowering the most vulnerable among us.
The same people who are shackled by student loan debt paying for false degrees.