Eighteen states sue Betsy DeVos for suspending rules on for-profit colleges

07 July, 2017, 00:54 | Author: Roderick Gutierrez
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A group of 18 states is suing the Department of Education and Secretary Betsy DeVos over the decision to delay implementation of protections for students at for-profit colleges.

California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington joined MA in the lawsuit against DeVos, which argues the Education Department is violating the Administrative Procedure Act in its halting of the borrower defense rule.

Without the protections of the current Borrower Defense Rule, many students who are harmed by the misconduct of for-profit schools are unable to seek a remedy in court.

Last Friday, DeVos said she was also suspending the new "gainful-employment" rule, another hallmark of the Obama administration that was set to take effect in July.

"Since day one, Secretary DeVos has sided with for-profit school executives against students and families drowning in unaffordable student loans", Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey wrote in a statement accompanying the lawsuit.

DeVos plans to hold two public hearings this month on the rules and said her aim is "to protect students from predatory practices while also providing clear, fair and balanced rules for colleges and universities to follow". The rules were designed to void student loan debt created by schools and colleges that cheated students with false claims such as exaggerated job placement rates.

In enacting the borrower defense rule past year, the Obama administration reviewed over 10,000 comments from students, school officials and consumer advocates, and gave schools more than six months to prepare for the implementation. At the time, DeVos said the rules were "a muddled process that's unfair to students and schools and puts the taxpayers on the hook for significant costs", according to Politico.

Meanwhile, former students who wish to sue their schools remain bound by the arbitration agreements they signed.

The two plaintiff students have also been waiting for almost two years for the Education Dept.to make a decision on their pending applications for loan forgiveness under the current Defense rules, which are much less transparent.

"Fraud, especially fraud committed by a school, is simply unacceptable", DeVos said in a June statement.

Implementation of the rules, known as "borrower defense", was delayed in May by the Trump administration. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, sent a letter to DeVos opposing the delay, saying the department had never used litigation as a reason to delay rules.

The lawsuit represents the latest effort by Democratic state attorneys general to police an Education Department they view as beholden to colleges and lenders. "We are asking the court to order this administration to implement the rule now, as the law requires". Data released by the Obama administration in January found that more than 800 programs across the country were failing to meet the rule's standards.


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