WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today blasted Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ proposal to rewrite “borrower defense to repayment” rules in a way that would devastate students who have been defrauded by for-profit colleges like ITT Tech and Corinthian College. According to reports, the move would make it harder for students who were defrauded by these schools to erase their debts by requiring that they prove these schools knowingly deceived them at the outset and by significantly reducing the estimated amount of loan forgiveness available.
“Secretary DeVos and the Department of Education have proven time and time again that they are there to line the pockets of for-profit college executives rather than defend students defrauded by those very companies,” said Brown. “ITT Tech’s unfair and often fraudulent practices left thousands of students with worthless degrees, limited job prospects, and tens of thousands of dollars in loan debt. We have a responsibility to assist defrauded students who did nothing wrong, not make it harder for them to access relief.”
Earlier this year, Brown demanded the Education Department use all available means to help students affected by the 2016 closure of ITT Tech. More than 3,000 Ohio students across nine campuses were affected, including students in: Akron, Columbus, Dayton, Hilliard, Maumee, Norwood, Strongsville, Warrensville Heights, and Youngstown. Many students have accrued financial debts or had difficulty transferring schools or credits. Yet, under Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ new leadership, the department froze its investigation into ITT Tech’s fraudulent behaviors and even suspended the rules put in place after ITT’s closure to protect students.
Following ITT Tech’s closure, the Department of Education promulgated new rules under its “borrower defense” authority to help more students receive a discharge of their federal loan debt. However Secretary DeVos and her Department have suspended those rules and halted an investigation into ITT Tech’s fraudulent statements that misled students. In a letter earlier this year, Brown demanded the Department of Education act expeditiously to help ITT Tech borrowers through both its closed school discharge and borrower defense authorities.
In 2017, Brown helped pass bipartisan legislation that restored G.I. benefits for veterans who attended ITT Tech and Corinthian Colleges, both of which left veterans with meaningless degrees or without a degree to show for their time when they failed.
Earlier this year, Brown joined 10 Senators in demanding Secretary DeVos answer questions as to why a former high-powered lobbyist and consultant for the for-profit college industry, Diane Auer Jones, now has a senior advisor role in the Department of Education overseeing the exact regulations, administrative matters, and high-stakes enforcement actions faced by the same for-profit colleges she previously worked with or represented.