Durbin, Murray: Inspector General Reveals New Details About Failure Of DeVos, Trump Admin To Provide Debt Relief To Defrauded Student Borrowers

Letter from Department of Education OIG shows high-ranking Department official ordered halt to work on additional borrower defense evidence, Department reduced staff with no given rationale even while borrower defense backlog grew

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Patty Murray (D-WA) today slammed the Trump Administration and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for findings revealed in a letter from the Department of Education Office of Inspector General (OIG) showing the Department’s blatant actions to avoid providing student loan relief to borrowers who were defrauded by predatory for-profit colleges, relief that students are entitled to under the law.  In their letter, the OIG reveals that then-Acting Undersecretary James Manning directed staff to halt developing the basis for new categories of relief at Corinthian and other predatory schools.  The letter also shows that even as the Department acknowledged a mounting backlog of borrower defense claims, it reduced contractor staffing without providing any rationale.

“The Inspector General’s revelation that Mr. Manning ordered staff to halt work – work that was gathering the bases for additional borrower defense relief for Corinthian and other defrauded students – proves that Secretary DeVos and the Trump Administration have no interest in providing the relief to which defrauded student borrowers are entitled under the law.  Borrowers who were defrauded by Corinthian, ITT Tech, Westwood, and other for-profit colleges should be outraged,” said Durbin.  “And if Mr. Manning wants to provide the flimsy excuse that this work was halted as part of a routine review by the new Administration, I have a simple question for him: have you ordered that work to be restarted, and provided the necessary personnel and resources to carry it out?” 

“Secretary DeVos keeps claiming she wants to help students cheated and defrauded by predatory colleges, but at every turn she has put corporate profits ahead of students’ and borrowers’ best interests,” said Murray.  “If Secretary DeVos really wanted to help student loan borrowers, she would stop listening to the for-profit college executives she hired at the Department, and start listening to the millions of students who are desperately looking for relief.”

Following the collapse of for-profit giants Corinthian Colleges and ITT Technical Institute, thousands of students were left with a useless education and massive amounts of debt, leading many to apply to the federal government for relief from their student loans.  Under the Borrower Defense to Repayment provision of the Higher Education Act, the Department of Education has the legal authority to provide cheated and defrauded students with complete, immediate, and automatic relief from their federal student loans. 

In November 2017, Durbin and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) released a report – “Insult to Injury: How the DeVos Department of Education is Failing Defrauded Students” – detailing how the Department of Education and Secretary DeVos have failed tens of thousands of Americans by refusing to cancel the loans of students who were defrauded by predatory colleges.

Durbin’s letter to IG Tighe is available here.  IG Tighe’s response to Durbin’s letter is available here.