Today’s proposal that administrative authority be used to cancel student debt, and the affirmation of the legality of such a step by the Project on Predatory Student Lending at Harvard Law School are important positive possibilities for student borrowers and their families and communities. AFR has long called on the Department of Education to use its existing legal authority to cancel the federal debts of wronged students of for-profit colleges without individual application – as have former Corinthian students, advocates, lawmakers, and law enforcement officials. A group of thirteen Senators wrote a letter in 2014 calling on the Department to use its authority to discharge the debt of former students of the now-bankrupt Corinthian College, a chain of for-profit colleges with endemic fraud. This call was joined by Rep. Maxine Waters and the co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus in the House. In 2015, AFR together with dozens of other organizations filed a petition to the Department of Education led by the National Consumer Law Center outlined the Department’s legal authority to compromise and modify student loans.
Strong majorities across political parties show concern about the level of student debt in the United States and oppose the Department of Education’s and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) recent actions to weaken protections for students, according to a new poll released by Americans for Financial Reform (AFR) and the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL).
Americans for Financial Reform joined 56 other organizations to express strong support for the PROTECT Students Act. This legislation would enact important protections for students and taxpayers
against predatory colleges that cheat students and leave them with large debts they cannot afford.
It also includes a far-reaching set of reforms to hold predatory colleges accountable
to both students and taxpayers.
“The proposed Borrower Defense rule sacrifices students’ rights in order to line the pockets of executives at for-profit colleges, an industry that has shown time and again that it will use taxpayer dollars to deceive and defraud its own students.” said Alexis Goldstein, AFR’s Senior Policy Analyst. “With this rule and its extreme and absurd barriers to relief, Devos effectively tells students that if a school scams them, they’re on their own.”
Americans for Financial Reform wrote to the Department of Education to voice concerns with two applications they have proposed for higher education institutions seeking access to emergency relief funds. In addition to creating barriers to accessing the funds, the forms are not available in Spanish, which will preclude potential applicants in Puerto Rico from accessing needed funds.
“The news of the Department’s scheme to grant only partial relief to scammed students is just one more piece of an abundance of evidence that the Trump Administration and the DeVos Department of ED care more for the proprietary institutions that break the law than they do for the students they defraud,” said Alexis Goldstein, Senior Policy Analyst at Americans for a Financial Reform. “For Secretary DeVos, it’s predatory companies first, students last.”
At the Department of Education’s negotiated rulemaking on Borrower Defense, Alexis Goldstein gave public comment imploring the Department to finally discharge the debt of students defrauded by for-profit colleges.
Today at a public hearing at the Department of Education, AFR’s senior policy analyst gave testimony about the need to reinstate the Memorandum of Understanding with the CFPB, ended by Secretary DeVos to widespread criticism.
“It is crucial that any nominee for Education Secretary of the Department of Education not only affirm the need to enforce existing rules that seek to protect both students and taxpayers from fraud, but also clearly articulate plans to rapidly pursue additional automatic group discharges. Betsy DeVos has done neither. Americans for Financial Reform urges the members of the Senate to reject Betsy DeVos’s nomination as Secretary of the Department of Education.”
Americans for Financial Reform (AFR) applauds the news that the Department of Education will grant automatic discharges to all former students of American Career Institute (ACI) in Massachusetts. Before being confirmed, any nominee for Secretary of the Department of Education must clearly articulate plans to rapidly pursue additional automatic group discharges, to ensure that all Americans are protected from future exploitation of taxpayer-backed loans by predatory schools.