Education Secretary Betsy DeVos quashed the career staff of the department’s Borrower Advocacy Unit, deciding to force student borrowers to partially repay their loans even though they had been cheated by colleges for purpose. lucrative, according to documents obtained by NPR.
More than 200,000 borrowers have asked the US Department of Education to write off their federal student loan debt under a rule called “defense of borrowers” after they alleged that several for-profit university chains lied to them about their relationship with employers and credit portability. DeVos ruled that students were still reaping value from the colleges that defrauded them and argued that they should only get partial relief from federal loans.
Internal ratings obtained by NPR show that career staff in the ministry’s borrower advocacy unit strongly argued that the debt should be written off entirely, only to be canceled by DeVos.
The memos show that staff at the borrower’s advocacy unit recommended, just weeks before DeVos took over the department, that students swindled by Corinthian colleges and the ITT technical institute, among others, deserved the cancellation of all their student debts.
A 2017 memo stated that Corinthian Colleges “consistently stated that all graduates get jobs after graduation or, related, their students are guaranteed jobs after graduation.” These representations were false and misleading. Accordingly, the Borrower Advocacy Unit recommends full relief for Corinthian Borrower Defense (BD) applicants.
A note written the next day came to the same conclusion on ITT Technical Institute.
DeVos accused the Obama administration of trying to “prove general relief without examining the facts or evidence” in a letter to the House Education Committee, but memos show there has been a thorough review of the evidence against the channels academics.
“Hundreds of spontaneous statements from students confirm the lack of value of an ITT education, as ITT students repeatedly report that their education was substandard and their degree or school affiliation was a barrier instead. that an asset when looking for a job ”, declared a note of January 10, 2017 obtained by NPR. “In light of this largely well-documented, pervasive and high-profile misconduct, the ministry has determined that the value of an ITT training – like Corinthian – is likely negligible or nonexistent. … Therefore, it is appropriate that the Ministry provide full relief to eligible borrowers.
The memos included quotes from borrowers who said that after graduating from these colleges, “employers won’t touch me” or “people laugh at me.”
DeVos has repeatedly sided with for-profit colleges. She argued in a speech in 2017 that while students “should be protected from predatory practices”, schools “should also be treated fairly”. She ultimately decided that the ministry would use borrower income data to determine the amount of debt relief to be provided in individual cases.
This decision was blocked by U.S. District Court investigating judge Sallie Kim in San Francisco, in a May 2018 ruling. Kim ruled that the use of income data violated privacy protections and ordered the department to stop collecting the debt of certain students defrauded by Corinthian colleges.
DeVos was convicted of contempt of court, fined $ 100,000 and threatened with jail after court heard that the department had attempted to collect the debt payments anyway.
DeVos on Tuesday announced a new plan that once again seeks to “water down” the debt cancellation program, The New York Times reported.
Thousands of students defrauded by these colleges will still have to pay off some of their debts on a “complicated sliding scale” that determines the relief students will receive based on the group’s income data, according to the report.
Students will only have their debt written off entirely if “students in a particular program earned significantly less than students in similar programs at other schools,” according to the Times. Students with lower incomes will receive partial relief between 25 percent and 75 percent of their total federal loans.
The new policy comes after the ministry changed borrower defense rules in August, making it even more difficult to get relief.
DeVos said the new policy was necessary to prevent “giving taxpayer money to those who submitted a bogus claim or who are not eligible for relief.”
Eileen Connor, legal director of the Harvard Law School’s predatory student loan project, has vowed to challenge the policy in court.
“Under the law, cheated students have the right to have their loans fully canceled,” she told the Time. “This pattern of partial denial will force thousands of families to pay off fraudulent debts that never should have existed in the first place.”
A group of students swindled by now-closed colleges wrote a letter to DeVos on Tuesday calling the new policy a “slap in the face.”
“Student voices were not involved in the process,” the letter said. “Meanwhile, the for-profit college industry had seats at the table every step of the way.”
The education ministry defended the decision in a statement to NPR.
“‘Full relief’ sounds good, but it really does mean ‘full liability’ for taxpayers – and it’s not fair in cases where a borrower is not entitled to it,” said Angela Morabito, business associate. press release of the department. “This is why it is imperative that we examine each Borrower’s Defense claim individually. Forcing taxpayers to give a general rebate would be to abandon our duty to be good stewards of taxpayers’ money. The ministry will provide student loan relief to those who qualify. “
Democrats blasted the latest policy change and the disclosures in memos obtained by the media.
“She continually refuses to do her job and does not stand by the students”, noted Senator Patty Murray, D-Wash., The top Democrat on the Senate committee that oversees education.
“Betsy DeVos has been actively working against our students – harming their education, financial well-being and safety – from day one,” wrote Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., Who sits on a House appropriation subcommittee that oversees education spending. “She has no qualifications for her role and should never have been confirmed. She has to go!
Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., says the leaked memos show that DeVos “will go down in history as the worst Secretary of Education to ever hold this post.”