Commentary: WASHINGTON — Attorneys general of 18 states and the District of Columbia today filed suit against U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos over the delay of implementing student borrower defense regulations. This lawsuit, Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. United States Department of Education and Betsy DeVos, challenges the Department of Education’s summary and unlawful repeal of a final agency regulation known as the “Borrower Defense Rule” that was designed to hold abusive post-secondary institutions accountable for their misconduct and to relieve their students from federal loan indebtedness incurred as a result of that misconduct.
The U.S. Department of Education has indefinitely delayed implementation of rules that were set to take effect on July 1 that allow borrowers to seek loan forgiveness if their schools had deceived them or committed fraud. The coalition involved in today’s lawsuit, led by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, includes the attorneys general of Massachusetts, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and the District of Columbia.
The following statement can be attributed to NEA President Lily Eskelsen García:
“The National Education Association applauds the decision by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and 18 other states to stand up for students by filing a lawsuit that aims to keep the U.S. Department of Education accountable to the very students it is supposed to serve. These regulations are designed to protect students who have loans at for-profit colleges that have committed fraud and deceived students.
“It is simply wrong that the Department of Education would want to do away with regulations that would protect students. It is no surprise that these regulations have been strongly opposed by for-profit schools, which have saddled students with crushing debts for college degrees. If that weren’t enough of a burden, some of the degrees provided by these for-profit institutions have failed to prepare students with a viable pathway to getting a good job and are often not even worth the paper on which they’re printed.
“NEA will continue to push for college affordability by advocating for an increased number of Pell Grants, a streamlined federal loan repayment plans to create a single, an income-based option with affordable monthly payments for struggling borrowers, and the restoration of federally subsidized loans for graduate students.”
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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.