Betsy DeVos Just Made It Harder for Defrauded Students to Get Their Debt Canceled

Democratic presidential candidates are pissed.

Oliver Contreras, AP

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Just in time for the start of a new school year, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Friday finalized a new suite of changes to an Obama-era policy that targeted fraud at for-profit colleges. The new DeVos rule significantly raises the bar students have to clear in order to qualify for debt forgiveness when their schools close while they’re enrolled.

After state and federal investigations into fraud at some of the country’s biggest for-profit college operators caused the schools to shutter, thousands of students found themselves deep in debt for incomplete degrees. As my colleague Eddie Rios reported last year:

The Century Foundation, a Washington-based think tank, found in May that more than 127,000 debt relief claims were filed to the Education Department by March 2018, up 29 percent from August 2017….More than 98 percent of those claims came from students who attended for-profit colleges. 

The Obama program has cleared $222 million in loans from nearly 20,000 borrowers since 2016, according to the New York Times. But as a result of the new DeVos rule, after July 2020, students filing for debt relief will have to prove their colleges intentionally deceived them, that it influenced their decision to enroll, and that it made them financially suffer. The change also sets a three-year deadline for filing a claim; the Obama rule had no deadline and automatically relieved their debts if they didn’t enroll elsewhere within three years. 

The Trump administration has repeatedly tried to delay rules for for-profit colleges and student loan forgiveness. Last year, a federal court called the delay “arbitrary and capricious,” ordering DeVos to implement the Obama-era rule. Student and consumer advocates plan to legally challenge DeVos’ latest replacement, as well. 

Student loans and Devos’ unpopular run as secretary of education have become a centerpiece of Democratic presidential politics. The 2020 field quickly condemned DeVos over the weekend.

 

 

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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