Americans for Financial Reform welcomes the passage of H.J. Res. 76 to roll back Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ devastating attempt to make debt cancellation for scammed students nearly impossible. The resolution passed 231 to 180 with bipartisan support; 6 Republicans and all Democrats voted yes, with 19 members not voting.
Since the mid 1990s, student borrowers who were defrauded by their college have been entitled to have those loans canceled. Betsy DeVos wants to change that. In the fall of 2016, the Department of Education updated this rule to clarify the process and add protections.
AFR joined 65 other organizations to write in support of S.J.Res. 56 and H.J.Res.76 to undo Education Secretary DeVos’ 2019 Borrower Defense to Repayment rule. The DeVos rule gutted the Obama Administration’s 2016 rule that added further protections to students who are entitled to debt cancellation after their schools broke the law. An analysis of the Department’s own calculations estimates that only 3 percent of the loans that result from school misconduct would be cancelled under the new rule. Schools would be held accountable for reimbursing taxpayers for just 1 percent of these loans.
Majorities of American voters across parties believe that the student debt burden – now at $1.5 trillion – represents a crisis for the country, according to a new poll. The survey also found widespread concern with efforts by Mick Mulvaney, the Trump official installed at the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, to gut the agency’s student lending office.
A new polling memo from Americans for Financial Reform and the Center for Responsible Lending documents the widespread agreement among American voters that the student debt burden, now at $1.5 trillion, is a crisis.
The ability for states to enact laws governing how servicers may interact with borrowers, and the ability of state Attorneys General to file lawsuits against servicers for consumer abuses, are crucial accountability mechanisms that must continue. That the Department would attempt in any way to prevent these state level efforts to defend borrowers simply shows that under Betsy DeVos, it is servicers before students.
Americans for Financial Reform strongly condemns the decision by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to abandon the victims of predatory colleges by delaying the Borrower Defense rule. This is a slap in the face to defrauded Americans, and a stunning admission by the Department of Education that they intend to place wealthy for-profit college executives ahead of students striving for a better life.
Secretary’s DeVos’s actions to rescind three past Department of Education memos moves us away from true accountability, and creates dangers for the very student loan borrowers the Department is responsible for protecting.
“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.”