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STATEMENT: Maggie Thompson on Education Department Blocking Borrower Defense

Today, the Department of Education, under Secretary Betsy DeVos, announced it would block a critical Obama-era rule providing debt relief for defrauded students. Maggie Thompson, Executive Director of Generation Progress, issued the following statement in response:

“Blocking the Borrower Defense to Repayment (BD) rule imperils the economic wellbeing of thousands of defrauded students, and is a taxpayer-giveaway to the predatory for-profit college industry. It’s clear that Secretary DeVos and her Education Department favor the profiteers of the for-profit college industry over students, families, and taxpayers. DeVos’ Department hired an executive from the for-profit industry, Robert Eitel, and is now dismantling the very regulations his industry’s bad behavior predicated.

The borrower defense rule is simple, and important. If a college or career program commits fraud, its students deserve a full discharge of their federal loans. Fraudulent schools, not taxpayers, should be liable to repay those debts. No student should ever be asked to sign away their legal rights to get into the classroom.

As the collapse of Corinthian and ITT Tech showed us, indebted victims of predatory schools are still waiting for relief from DeVos, and are facing credit penalties, wage garnishment, and Social Security reductions, all to pay off debts to spurious schools.

BD is especially important for students of for-profit colleges—many of whom come from low-income communities or communities of color—who were afforded a path to some debt relief with the original regulation. By blocking the implementation of BD and limiting oversight, DeVos is sending the message that predatory institutions can cheat student borrowers out of time and money and get away with it.”

Generation Progress and the Higher Ed, Not Debt campaign work with thousands of borrowers struggling with student debt, many of whom will be harmed by the DeVos Department trashing the Borrower Defense rule.

For a selection of stories from borrowers struggling with debt, check out “Student Debt Nation” here. To be connected with additional borrower stories, contact Kyle Epstein at kepstein@americanprogress.org or 202.481.8137.

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