(Washington, D.C.) – Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee released the following statement on the U.S. Department of Education’s (“Department”) announcement it will only provide partial relief to students who were defrauded by predatory for-profit colleges, including the now-closed Corinthian Colleges, Inc. Under the “borrower defense” process, students who were cheated out of their education and savings should receive a full discharge, and in some cases, a refund of payments made toward their loans. Today’s announcement significantly constrains that relief to borrowers.
“There is nothing fair about denying students the full relief they are entitled to when they are cheated, so it is appalling Secretary DeVos is creating a scheme to block full relief to tens of thousands of borrowers stuck paying back loans on worthless or nonexistent degrees. For nearly a year, these students have been pleading with the Department for help, but instead it has undermined current and future protections against predatory for-profit colleges. Claiming that this new process will help students, borrowers, and taxpayers is highly misleading and I have serious concerns that the Department may not have followed federal law in repurposing earnings data to deny the full relief borrowers deserve. I strongly urge Secretary DeVos to abandon this cruel process, and instead immediately provide full relief to the students who were cheated out of their education and savings.”
Senator Murray and her colleagues previously warned the Department against limiting relief to students. Until today, the Department had failed to approve a single borrower defense claim, leaving hundreds of thousands of borrowers in limbo. This summer Secretary DeVos delayed, and is currently rewriting, an updated rule that would have expanded protections for students and borrowers and safeguarded taxpayers from assuming the burden when risky schools and programs fail. Earlier this month, a report by the independent Office of Inspector General (OIG) confirmed the borrower defense rule was working until the Department began to undermine the program, even ignoring the recommendation of the OIG to begin providing swift relief to borrowers.