Durbin, Murray Continue To Seek Status Of Group Discharge Applications Submitted By State AG's
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Patty Murray (D-WA) today requested the U.S. Department of Education provide an update on group discharge applications filed by State attorneys general on behalf of thousands of defrauded students who are eligible for federal loan discharge under the borrower defense provision of the Higher Education Act. The Department’s response to the same request Durbin, Murray, and 20 of their Senate colleagues sent in June was “unacceptable.”
The applications cover students who attended American Career Institute, Anthem University, Corinthian Colleges, Inc., Globe University and Minnesota School of Business, Kaplan University, Lincoln Technical Institute, Westwood College, Illinois Institute of Art, and Art Institute of Colorado. The list of applications was disclosed by the Department in response to a Questions for the Record submitted by Durbin following a March 28, 2019, Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies hearing on the Fiscal Year 2020 Budget Request from the U.S. Department of Education.
“We are extremely disappointed with the unacceptable response to our June 18 letter…Our staff have repeatedly requested that you provide the information we originally sought—to no avail. A request of 22 members of the United States Senate deserves more respect than that conveyed by your continued failure to provide the information we sought,” the members wrote to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.
The Department’s failure to respond to the Senators’ request is indicative of a broader Department resistance to providing information to Congress. Yesterday, after more than a year of delay and recent subpoena threats, Secretary DeVos agreed to turn over documents to the House Education and Labor Committee related to the agency’s refusal to provide debt relief to defrauded students.
The Department has failed to process tens of thousands of individual applications submitted by borrowers. According to the most recently available data from the Department, at least 210,168 borrower defense applications are pending. The Department has not approved any borrower defense discharges for more than a year.
Since taking office, the Trump Administration and Secretary DeVos have attempted to shield for-profit colleges from accountability. The Administration gutted the Obama-era Borrower Defense rule, which provides a streamlined process for defrauded borrowers to receive borrower defense discharges and allows students to hold school directly accountable in court for misconduct by prohibiting the use of mandatory pre-dispute arbitration. Durbin, with Murray’s support, is leading the effort in the Senate to overturn the DeVos Borrower Defense rewrite.
Full text of today’s letter is available here and below:
November 15, 2019
Dear Secretary DeVos:
We are extremely disappointed with the unacceptable response to our June 18 letter requesting the status of each borrower defense group discharge application submitted by State attorneys general.
Rather than provide an update on each of the applications submitted by at least 20 State attorneys general as requested, the response—signed by Principal Deputy Undersecretary Diane Auer Jones—stated only that the “requests for group relief submitted to date by State attorneys general are in various stages of review by the Department.” This reply is not responsive to our original request.
Our staff have repeatedly requested that you provide the information we originally sought—to no avail. A request of 22 members of the United States Senate deserves more respect than that conveyed by your continued failure to provide the information we sought.
Once, again, please provide the requested information, and no later than December 2, 2019.
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