Durbin Statement On Trump-DeVos Rewrite Of Borrower Defense Rule

Durbin: An invitation to more for-profit college fraud

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) today released the following statement after the Trump Administration and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced a proposed rule rewriting the 2016 Obama Borrower Defense Rule.  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.

‘Student Borrower Beware.’  That’s apparently the new doctrine of the Trump-DeVos Department of Education embodied in the newly released rewrite of the 2016 Obama Borrower Defense Rule.  It’s not personal responsibility, it’s government complicity in the illegal and predatory practices of the for-profit college industry.  This rule, if finalized, will make it practically impossible for defrauded student borrowers to seek and receive the federal student loan relief they are entitled to and Congress intended under the Higher Education Act.  Mark my words, today’s action by the Trump Administration and Secretary DeVos is an invitation to create a new wave of for-profit college fraud.

The proposed Trump-DeVos “borrower defense” rule cuts $12.715 billion in student relief compared to the 2016 final rule; requires student borrowers to default and be in collections in order to receive a borrower defense discharge; eliminates provisions from the 2016 rule restricting the use of forced arbitration and class action bans by for-profit colleges in student enrollment; and significantly limits closed school discharges. 

Yesterday, Durbin called out the Trump Administration and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for data revealed in a response to Durbin’s Questions for the Record (QFR) from June 12, 2018, that show the Department’s blatant failure to provide student loan relief to borrowers who were defrauded by predatory for-profit colleges.  The numbers showed the widespread and pervasive nature of fraud in the for-profit college industry beyond Corinthian and ITT Tech.  

In May 2017, Durbin, along with Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Patty Murray (D-WA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) demanded answers regarding the delay of payment on tens of thousands of student loan discharges and refunds approved under the “borrower defense” authority.  On July 7, 2017, the Department provided a response, which showed growing numbers of borrower defense claims being filed and that it had not approved a single new claim since the Trump Administration took office.

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.