Illinois Senator Dick Durbin is ramping up efforts on the U.S. Department of Education to forgive student loans for people defrauded by for-profit colleges. Durbin slammed the Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on her rewritten borrower defense rule that takes out protections for student borrowers whose schools close. DeVos’s new borrower defense rule scraps the Higher Education Act of 2014 and limits the number of accepted discharges. Durbin detailed some of the issues yesterday on the Senate floor: “Congress created the Borrower Defense program to ensure student borrower’s lives weren’t ruined by schools. In 2014, for-profit Corinthian Colleges collapsed. It left more than 70,000 students nationwide with worthless credit they couldn’t transfer and mounds of student debt. The students were lured into those schools with false promises of inflated placement rates, and income projections. We know that for a fact because we have the data to show that they lied to students about what graduation from Corinthian could mean in their lives. Over the last 5 or 6 years, nearly every other major for-profit college has faced federal and state lawsuits and investigations for predatory practices similar to what happened at Corinthian College.”
Durbin said that DeVos has purposely denied the discharge requests and backed up the department with the overflow of those requests to over 200,000 since March of last year, including 11,000 from the State of Illinois. Durbin claims that DeVos’ office has not approved a single claim for more than a year.
Durbin shared stories of two students who were defrauded by for-profit colleges, and who are waiting for discharge of their student loans. He also urged his Senate colleagues to support his Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution of disapproval overturning the DeVos rule when it comes to the Senate floor for a vote. CRA resolutions of disapproval allow Congress to overturn regulatory actions of federal agencies with a simple majority vote in both chambers. DeVos had a similar measure overturned when she delayed implementation of the Obama Administration’s $17 billion in relief to defrauded student borrowers. A federal judge found DeVos’ delay to be illegal, making the rule take effect, which brought about the effort to rewrite the Borrower Defense rule. Durbin’s CRA resolution has yet to be called to the floor to be voted on.