Students that were defrauded by predatory for-profit colleges just secured a victory from a federal judge in a court battle over the Borrower Defense Rule.
The Project on Predatory Student lending initially reported that the decision — which was handed down Tuesday by U.S. District Court Judge Randolph Moss for the District of Columbia — halts a motion for a preliminary injunction that sought to block the Borrower Defense Rule. The Borrower Defense Rule is now back in effect, though a separate lawsuit the for-profit college industry to permanently stop it continues.
“It’s extremely validating to see a court agree that what the Department did was wrong, and to know that students who were cheated will finally be able to seek relief,” Meaghan Bauer, one of the students involved in the litigation, stated. “I hope these rulings remind the Department of Education of its obligation to care for its citizens who are the future of this country, and that it will start to act in the interest of students instead of focusing on lining the pockets of for-profit institutions.”
The Borrower Defense Rule, which was put in place by the Obama administration’s Department of Education in 2016, was rolled back in 2017 after Betsy DeVos became the new Education Secretary. Before Secretary DeVos sought to block it, the rule erased the debt of students who had enrolled in courses at for-profit colleges found to have acted fraudulently, like Corinthian Colleges and Trump University.
At the time, Department of Education spokeswoman Liz Hill argued the Borrower Defense Rule would have caused unnecessary harm to students and schools, though she didn’t specify how.
“The borrower-defense regulations suffer from substantive and procedural flaws that need to be considered before imposing new burdens on regulated parties,” Hill stated in 2017. “That is why the secretary decided it was time to take a step back and hit pause on these regulations until this case has been decided in court and to make sure these rules achieve their purpose: helping harmed students.”
Following Judge Moss’s order, attorneys for the plaintiffs stated that they’ll continue to fight the lawsuit for-profit colleges are waging to stop the Borrower Defense Rule.
“Today’s decision is a huge win for defrauded borrowers around the country,” stated Public Citizen attorney Julie Murray, who is representing the students. “The rule is finally in effect. No more excuses. No more delays. Industry will continue to challenge the rule in court, but we will work as long as it takes to defeat those corporate interests and an administration beholden to them.”
Tom Cahill is a contributor for Grit Post who covers political and economic news. He lives in Bend, Oregon. Send him an email at tom DOT v DOT cahill AT gmail DOT com.