Democratic attorneys general from nearly twenty states have joined in a lawsuit targeting the Department of Education and its controversial head, Betsy DeVos, over a proposed freeze on protections for student loan borrowers.
The attorneys general of 18 states, as well as Washington, D.C., are up in arms over DeVos’ decision to hold off on implementing protections for student loan borrowers who were cheated by fraudulent for-profit colleges.
The New York Times reports the regulations were put into effect by the Obama administration in October after ‘years of negotiation and review.’ Due become active July 1st, DeVos paused their implementation, citing a pending federal lawsuit brought forward by a California-based association of for-profit colleges.
DeVos criticized the rules as a “muddled process that’s unfair to students and schools.” She also promised not to establish a new committee that would reconsider the issue from scratch.
The attorney generals for the 18 states, which include Massachusetts and New York as well as Washington, D.C., said in their filing that the Department of Education’s move was, in the words of The New York Times, a ‘”mere pretext” for repealing and replacing rules which had already been finalized.’
“Since Day 1, Secretary DeVos has sided with for-profit school executives against students and families drowning in unaffordable school loans,” said Maura Healey, attorney general of Massachusetts and head of the multistate coalition. “Her decision to cancel vital protections for students and taxpayers is a betrayal of her office’s responsibility and a violation of federal law.”
DeVos and the Department of Education are essentially trying to stymie regulations which would forgive the debt of students who had been defrauded by predatory, for-profit institutions.
Under the confine of the proposed – and already passed – regulation, students would be eligible to take a pass on debt payments if they attended a university which their state had taken legal action against. Schools like ITT Tech, which took advantage of veterans’ tuition assistance by charging sky-high premiums for nigh-worthless educations, are among those that could be affected should the rule take effect.
However, a Department of Education spokeswoman criticized the move by the attorneys general as being ‘ideologically driven.’
The California lawsuit, according to spokeswoman Liz Hill, “makes serious and credible changes” for and to institutions that might be adversely affected by the policy.
Nevertheless, the attorneys general involved in the suit seemed assured they were acting in the best interest of the residents of their states.
“These rules served as critical protections against predatory for-profit schools that exploit hardworking students – students who are simply trying to invest in their own education and future,” said New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. “When Washington abdicates its responsibility to protect New Yorkers, we won’t hesitate to step in.”