Washington, D.C.— There are almost 90,000 people around the country who’ve been ripped off by predatory or for-profit schools and applied for loan forgiveness. Betsy DeVos’ Department started a rulemaking process this morning to make sure predatory schools can keep their money and students that were ripped off don’t get a thing.

At the first day of negotiated rulemaking proceedings, Higher Ed, Not Debt, as part of a coalition of students, consumer advocates, and veterans, tried to livestream the public meeting. Despite these proceedings being public, the Department of Education refused to begin the meeting unless livestreaming equipment was off. The members of the negotiating committee spent approximately two hours discussing livestreaming and were not comfortable explicitly prohibiting it. Despite this, Department officials stated that they are “not comfortable” with livestreaming and are still enforcing a ban.

Given the importance of these issues, having access to live real-time coverage is within the spirit of the requirement for public input and access. The Department will also not provide a transcript to the public, even though there was, in the words of the facilitator, an “accommodation request” made, and there is in fact a transcription service in the room.

Tellingly, an attorney representing the interest of for-profit colleges at the table asserted that streaming would have a “chilling, negative effect” on discussions. Students and borrowers lose when these discussions are held behind closed doors. Charlotte Hancock, Director of Higher Ed, Not Debt said:

“It’s undemocratic that the DeVos Department won’t let the public—including borrowers whose lives and finances are being negatively impacted daily—view what is said around a table by representatives of the for-profit industry. This is a public meeting. This Department’s attempt to hide this process from the public view demonstrates that it is in the pockets of predatory schools. We’re disappointed that DeVos is operating this regulatory process with minimal transparency for those who cannot afford traveling to Washington, DC for multiple days.

The for-profit college industry is making money off of putting people into unnecessary debt, and the DeVos Department of Education is facilitating this predatory scheme.”

For more information or to speak with an expert, contact Giovanni Rocco at grocco@americanprogress.org or 202-478-6438.

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