loans

The Trump administration finally bowed to a judicial decision rejecting Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ effort to allow scam colleges to saddle students with debt, and agreed to eliminate $150 million in garbage student loans.

Unsuspecting students took out thousands of dollars in loans within the last few decades to finance for-profit colleges charging exorbitant fees for mediocre education. Predatory colleges, such as Corinthian Colleges, ITT Tech and others collapsed amid allegations of falsified job placement records and graduation rates. The Education Department, under then-president Obama, swung directly at Corinthian when it cut off the school’s access to federal aid in 2014, forcing the college to shutter its doors.

The Obama administration then instituted a “gainful employment rule” requirement demanding that all career education programs eligible for federal student aid actually “prepare students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation.” The rule made it difficult to hide bogus degrees by using debt-to-earnings ratios to gauge whether career education programs at public, nonprofit, and for-profit colleges were actually leaving their graduates with sensible debt burdens. Pay $78,000 for an improvisational theater course? You’d better have a job in theater, not McDonald’s, or it reflected badly on your school.

Most of the 800 programs that failed to pass muster were for-profit schools.

The Obama administration then worked to cancel the debt incurred by students who had taken out federal loans to grab crap degrees from these garbage schools. When DeVos entered the picture under Trump, however, she brought several for-profit leaders with her. Not surprisingly, she moved to reverse the Obama-era requirement, and stood against canceling the loans. A federal judge ruled in September, however, that DeVos’ efforts to stomp the 2016 “borrower defense” regulations from taking effect was illegal. The same judge had to repeat himself in October, and rejected a bid by scam colleges to stop the regulations, which cleared the way for implementation.

Yesterday, the Trump administration finally got on board with the judicial order and declared that it will cancel the federal school debt of about 15,000 borrowers.

U.S. Sen. Pat Murray, (D-Washington) called it “a good first step” in a press statement, but said there was plenty more to do.

“It’s disappointing that it took a court order to get Secretary DeVos to begin providing debt relief to students left in the lurch by predatory for-profit colleges, but I am pleased the Department has finally started implementing this rule and that some of the borrowers who attended schools like Corinthian Colleges and ITT Tech are finally getting their loans cancelled,” Murray stated.

He called on DeVos, however, to abandon her attempts to rewrite the borrower defense rule to let for-profit colleges off the hook and demanded she fully implement the current rule and provide relief to an additional 100,000 borrowers who were cheated out of their education and savings.

 

Adam Lynch is a part-time “word-puncher” in Jackson, Mississippi. Battle with him on Twitter @A_damn_Lynch. He’s also on Facebook, if that’s still a thing.

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