PA Attorney General joins lawsuit against Betsy DeVos

Susan Walsh  AP

Susan Walsh AP

"Since day one, Secretary DeVos has sided with for-profit school executives against students and families drowning in unaffordable student loans", said Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, who led the lawsuit.

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 created 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.

They were to have taken effect July 1 along with a new gainful employment rule that would have limited the amount of debt that students at career-training schools - for-profit and not-for-profit - could take out relative to the incomes they were expected to earn.

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Attorneys general from several states are suing Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos for delaying protections for students victim of fraudulent colleges, reports the Washington Post. The Education Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The rule prohibits schools that receive federal funds from relying on existing agreements or entering into new contracts with their students that include forced arbitration provisions. DeVos announced she would delay the rule in June, citing "pending litigation challenging the BDR regulations" and what she described as an Obama administration rule-making effort that "missed an opportunity to get it right". But DeVos announced in June that she would delay its implementation. In addition to laying out a process for loan forgiveness, rules also attempt to hold colleges financially accountable if they defraud the students, taking the burden for loan forgiveness off of taxpayers.

In May, DeVos signaled her intent to target the borrower defense rule and subsequently said that its implementation would be delayed. This is important because these clauses prevent students from suing the school in court and from joining their complaints together in class actions. The filing says that as it stands, the borrower defense rule "deters misconduct by educational institutions, and protects the well-being of the states' respective residents".

The attorneys general who filed the lawsuit are from California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

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Becerra and seven other state attorneys general, along with the District of Columbia, filed a motion to intervene in that suit, saying they wanted to make sure the regulations were adequately defended. "These regulations should be implemented because they're good for students and because that's what the law requires".

The rules were finalized in the last days of the administration of President Barack Obama, a Democrat who overhauled federal student lending.

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