Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos spoke at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr/cc)

'Crushing Defeat' for DeVos as Federal Judge Rules She Illegally Delayed Relief for Students Defrauded by For-Profit Colleges

"This is a major victory for student borrowers and for anyone who cares about having a government that operates under the rule of law, instead of as a pawn of the for-profit college industry."

Jessica Corbett

A Washington, D.C. federal judge has delivered a "crushing defeat" of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, ruling that the Trump-appointee illegally delayed Obama-era regulations to provide loan relief to students defrauded by for-profit colleges.

U.S. District Court Judge Randolph Moss, in a 57-page ruling (pdf) issued Wednesday, sided with consumer advocates and a coalition of 19 Democratic states attorneys general, determining that DeVos's actions to delay the borrower defense rule were "unlawful," "procedurally invalid," and "arbitrary and capricious."

In terms of DeVos's broader and deeply unpopular agenda for the Education Department, Politico characterized the decision as "the most significant legal setback to date for DeVos's efforts to dismantle the Obama administration's higher education policies."

"This is a major victory for student borrowers and for anyone who cares about having a government that operates under the rule of law, instead of as a pawn of the for-profit college industry," said Toby Merrill, director of Project on Predatory Student Lending, which partnered with Public Citizen and the states attorneys general to file suit on behalf of two former students at the for-profit New England Institute of Art (NEIA) in Brookline, Massachusetts. 

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey—who led the coalition of state attorneys general for the lawsuit—responding in a series of tweets, called the ruling "a total rejection of President [Donald] Trump and Betsy DeVos's agenda to cheat students and taxpayers."

"For years we've fought for needed protections for student borrowers. No matter what this administration throws at us, we will continue to stand up for students and families in Massachusetts," Healey added. "It is time for the to go into effect and give thousands of students the relief they've been waiting for."

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)—who has spoken out against DeVos's attempts to delay the Obama-era rule and replace it with a policy that would "devastate students cheated by sham for-profit colleges"—celebrated the judge's decision on Twitter:

DeVos, in July, had unveiled her proposed re-write of the rule—which was immediately rejected by Healey, Warren, and consumer advocates. Public Citizen attorney Julie Murray, as Common Dreams reported, warned the proposal "would help predatory schools evade liability while cutting off federal loan relief to students who can ill afford it" and send a message to "predatory schools that crime pays."

While Judge Moss's Wednesday ruling did not include any directives for how the Education Department should proceed, all parties to the lawsuit are expected to return to the Washington, D.C. courthouse at 10:30am local time on Friday "to present oral argument regarding the appropriate remedies."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Store Walkout Over Firing of Starbucks Union Organizer Racks Up 20 Million Views on TikTok

"Starbucks continues its rampant firing of union leaders."

Jake Johnson ·

70% of Americans Support Deciding State Abortion Rights by Ballot Measure: Poll

After an "enormous victory" in Kansas, some progressives argue that ballot measures "are the next frontier" for protecting access to reproductive healthcare.

Jessica Corbett ·

Judge Rules Walgreens 'Substantially Contributed' to San Francisco Opioid Crisis

"Walgreens knew its system to detect and stop suspicious orders was nonexistent but continued to ship opioids at an alarming pace to increase profits," said an attorney for the California city.

Brett Wilkins ·

Historic Climate Bill, Say Clear-Eyed Critics, Still 'Pours Gasoline on the Flames'

"This was a backdoor take-it-or-leave-it deal between a coal baron and Democratic leaders in which any opposition from lawmakers or frontline communities was quashed," said one activist.

Jessica Corbett ·

Doctors Against Oz Launch Campaign Denouncing GOP Candidate as 'Quack'

"ShamWow guy + stethoscope = Dr. Oz," said John Fetterman, the Democratic U.S. Senate candidate in Pennsylvania.

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo