June 10, 2022

New Legal Filing Underscores DeVos Hostility to Debt Relief for Scammed Students

New Legal Filing Underscores DeVos Hostility to Debt Relief for Scammed Students

It’s good to know that Donald Trump’s education secretary, Betsy DeVos, joined the small minority of Republicans who opposed Trump’s conspiracy to overthrow the United States government. But when it comes to her views on education, including the appalling abuses of veterans, single mothers, and other students by for-profit colleges, DeVos is no hero. 

If you want to understand how aggressively DeVos, and the ex-for-profit college executives who ran the Department of Education (ED) for her, tried to deny loan relief to scammed students of Corinthian Colleges, ITT Tech, and other predatory schools, and also how the Biden administration has been slow to remedy these abuses, read this powerful new brief from lawyers representing the deep-in-debt former students.

The lawyers, from Harvard Law School’s Project on Predatory Student Lending and California’s Housing & Economic Rights Advocates, lay out a shameful course of events that began soon after Trump and DeVos came to power:

As soon as … DeVos took office in February 2017, ED began adopting a series of policies that had a singular purpose: to delay, obstruct, and avoid the agency’s duty to fairly and timely resolve BD applications. ED sought, and soon achieved, a complete halt to the process of even assessing, let alone granting, BD claims.

In May 2017, according to the brief, DeVos signed a memo from James Manning, then the Acting Under Secretary, “which recommended that no additional claims should be approved.” 

And that’s essentially what happened. The Department simply sat on tens of thousands of borrower claims. After the students sued in June 2019, the Department began denying the claims wholesale, via form notices that didn’t explain why. 

In September 2017, DeVos laid bare her real feelings about the victimized students: She saw them, not the crooked schools, as the scam artists. DeVos sneered to a Republican gathering that under the borrower relief rules adopted by the Obama Administration, “all one had to do was raise his or her hands to be entitled to so-called free money.”

The Biden administration promised to crack down on predatory college abuses and provide debt relief for scammed students. The Biden Department of Education finally took a huge step forward last week, granting broad relief to ex-students of the awful Corinthian schools. But overall progress has been slow, and the Department, in this litigation and others, has continued to oppose relief sought by students, including by joining with Betsy DeVos’s expensive lawyers to prevent the students from taking deposition testimony from the ex-secretary.