Education News

Senate rebukes DeVos for cruel re-write to “borrower defense” rule

By Mary Ellen Flannery

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and her pro-privatization, anti-student agenda received a big rebuke on Wednesday, when a bipartisan majority of Senators voted to block DeVos’ efforts to gut protections for student borrowers and taxpayers in her revision of the 30-year-old “borrower defense” rule.

“Today’s bipartisan vote in the Senate is a victory for students and shows, once again, just how out of touch Betsy DeVos’s agenda is with the American people,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García.

On Wednesday, 10 Republican Senators joined Democratic Senators in voting 53 to 42 for S.J. Res. 56, which overturns the Department of Education’s revision of the 2019 Borrower Defense to Repayment rule. This rule enables students who have been defrauded by predatory, for-profit colleges to get relief from the federal government, in the form of loan cancellation or forgiveness.

As originally written, the rule could be a lifesaver for the hundreds of thousands of students who were lured by false promises of degrees and jobs, and left holding mountains of federal student loan debt when massive, for-profit colleges, like Corinthian Colleges in 2014, collapsed and closed their doors.

“These students were basically defrauded,” said Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), who introduced the resolution. “These schools take the money and run, and the students end up holding the bag, with massive debts.” On Wednesday morning, he called on Senators to give former, for-profit students “a fighting chance to rebuild their lives.”

Currently more than 300,000 students have filed borrower-defense claims with the Department of Education, but federal officials have been slow to process those claims, in some cases making students wait for years. In October, DeVos was held in contempt of court for violating a 2018 court order to stop collecting on the debts of students who went to Corinthian, in some cases going so far as to garnish their wages.

In January, the House of Representatives passed a similar measure by a vote of 231 to 180, making clear “we care more about defending defrauded students than enriching predatory schools,” said U.S. Rep. Susie Lee (D-NV). Now, educators are urging President Trump to follow the majority in Congress by signing the legislation when it reaches his desk.

NEA has strongly supported the existing protections, and gone on record many times in fierce opposition to DeVos’ revisions to borrower defense. “Rather than safeguarding students, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is choosing to…protect unscrupulous colleges,” wrote Marc Egan, director of NEA government relations, in a February letter to Senators.

“The DeVos rule is especially cruel considering that those who are most vulnerable to targeting by these predatory institutions include veterans, older students, students of color, disabled students, and students who are the first in their families to attend college.”

These students include people like Army veteran Tasha Berkhalter, who spent five years in college and borrowed $100,000 to pay for a near-worthless degree from ITT Technical, a giant for-profit university that went belly up in 2016.

“Whenever I told an employer at job interviews where I went, I was shown the door,” Berkhalter said at a press conference last month.

22 responses to “Senate rebukes DeVos for cruel re-write to “borrower defense” rule

  1. How did we come to have a government so corrupt that it collaborates in the defrauding of its citizens?

  2. I personally have experienced great hardship because of student loans. My life has been delayed & still is because the loans are such a burden on me. I am fearful I may never be able to get out from under them.

  3. Appointed by fellow billionaire, Trump, says it all.
    She has lived in a “billionaire bubble” since the day she was born.
    She knows NOTHING about America’s public school system because she attended private schools, due to her family’s excessive wealth.
    When asked if she had visited rural & inner city schools, she replied, “No”.
    This is a CRYSTAL CLEAR example of her NOT caring!
    Her AGENDA is privatization of education, which has ALREADY been proven to FAIL, especially in devos’s home state of Michigan!
    Devos has NO BUSINESS in the position of Secretary of Education!
    Her appointment demonstrates Trump’s lack of caring for America’s children!

    1. When I was growing up, I went to a Catholic grade school. I do not now or have I ever thought that private schools should get vouchers. I am all for going to private school if you can pay for it or if the school has some kind of scholarship program/ This woman doesn’t have a clue about education. She should not be in the position she is now. If it were up to her every school would be a private school. She is a disgrace.

  4. I should like to send an email of thanks to those who voted in favor of the legislation, especially those who crossed party lines. Yet no link is supported that I can see.

    Positive reinforcements are a powerful tool in our political action. Let us make use of it.

    1. I would be willing to bet that you could find a list of the votes with a little digging. I am certainly not an expert in the field-but even just trying a simple search of some key words-I think it’s worth it as well Robert-great idea to promote those who are deciding on their own to come together…stay well.

  5. Get Trump and Pence out of there! Next-in-line Nancy Pelosi will sign that bill AND drop-kick Betsy DeVos to the curb!

  6. Betsy DeVos made her fortune in for-profit education, and the expense of students and our future. No surprise that she uses her position to continue to hurt the most vulnerable students and make money for herself and he friends. She does not believe in public education and is completely unqualified in her role.

  7. Education is a human right. On a larger scale, post secondary education in this country should be free as it is in all other developed nations. Some of our brightest students leave the US to study in countries where they can receive their degrees for free. The average student loan debt for American students finishing college/University is $40k. It is unconscionable. We should not only fight predatory lending but eliminate it completely with public education costs that are truly priced for the public constituency. DeVos should be ousted. The NEA and most of our representatives have shown her that they care about protecting students defrauded by predatory schools. Next steps: Stop the for-profit lending system in education. Student loans are by their very nature unethical and predatory. Education is a human right.

  8. It significantly becomes a cruel joke or curse on all of us in this nation that we have allowed a couple of generations of ‘amygdala-hijacked” shortsighted idiots to elect officials (including #45) who clearly have their reelection & self interests in mind more than governing the people they were elected to represent. Vote morons out of office. Prevent morons from running this nation. Vote carefully. Wash your hands. Don’t touch your face.

  9. Betsy DeVos is NO friend to Education. She is a billionaire out of touch and clueless about the needs of regular but dedicated working class teachers (educators). The USA is the most powerful country on Earth. Yet, our education infrastructure is sorely deficient, outdated and lacking the necessary monetary funds to, as President Trump says, “Make America great again.” We can do it, just give us the tools we need to get it done.
    We need an Education Secretary that CARES about kids, teachers and education.
    Betsy DeVos MUST go!

  10. She just showed us her true colors , once again, incompetent and a puppet to privilege. She doesn’t give hoot for public education. Mr Dewey is rolling in his grave.

    1. She’ s been trying to privatize public education since day 1, and as a retired High School teacher of 33 years, Bravo for those who spoke out👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼

  11. It does make me wonder how much money DeVos was promised from these predictory lenders when she pushed the new rule through the Senate. I’m so glad it fell flat on its face.

    1. Now, Let’s get a person with some background on education and has even a slight understanding of hardship and struggle and a tiny bit of empathy in his/her heart to assume this position.

  12. And i suppose this also applies to the students defrauded by 45 at his fake university, too? Ironic that HE has to sign the bill!

  13. Show her Devos the door she is so out of touch and unqualified for this role !! isn’t it a conflict of interest when she ran some of these predatory loan companies ?? Oh, but I forgot when it comes to this presidents regime there are no rules! I am sickened that she and and the rest are still there !! Thanks to the Senate for voting this down !

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