Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos testifies during a House Appropriations Committee hearing in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

'Good First Step' as DeVos Forced to Cancel $150M in Student Loan Debt for Thousands Scammed by For-Profit Schools

"It's disappointing that it took a court order to get Secretary DeVos to begin providing debt relief to students left in the lurch by predatory for-profit colleges."

Jake Johnson

After a federal judge struck down billionaire Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' attempt to gut protections for students scammed by for-profit colleges, the Department of Education announced on Thursday that—because of the court mandate—it is canceling $150 million in student loan debt for around 15,000 defrauded borrowers.

"The Department of Education illegally delayed implementation of the 2016 borrower defense rule, but because our clients in Bauer v. DeVos were willing to fight back, 15,000 students are finally getting the relief they are owed," said Toby Merrill, director of the Project on Predatory Student Lending, which represented the students leading the legal fight against DeVos.

While celebrating the Education Department's cancellation of $150 million in student loan debt as a "good first step" in a statement on Thursday, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.)—top Democrat on the Senate Education Committee—added that "it's not good enough."

"It's disappointing that it took a court order to get Secretary DeVos to begin providing debt relief to students left in the lurch by predatory for-profit colleges, but I am pleased the department has finally started implementing [the borrower defense] rule and that some of the borrowers who attended schools like Corinthian Colleges and ITT Tech are finally getting their loans cancelled," Murray said.

"It should not have taken litigation to force the department to do its job to protect students."
—Adam Pulver, Public Citizen Litigation Group

Murray went on to demand that DeVos "abandon her attempts to rewrite the borrower defense rule to let for-profit colleges off the hook and instead fully implement the current rule and provide relief to more than 100,000 borrowers who were cheated out of their education and savings."

According to Politico, around "half of the borrowers who will now receive loan discharges attended campuses owned by Corinthian Colleges, the chain of for-profit colleges that went bankrupt in 2015. The remaining students attended other schools that closed sometime between Nov. 1, 2013, and Dec. 4, 2018."

DeVos' effort to delay and rewrite the Obama-era borrower defense rule—which was designed to provide debt relief to students who were misled or defrauded by for-profit colleges—sparked a flood of condemnation and lawsuits from students, consumer advocacy groups, members of Congress, and state attorneys general.

In September, a federal court delivered a "crushing blow" to DeVos' agenda by ruling that the billionaire education secretary's attempt to deny relief to students scammed by for-profit colleges was "procedurally invalid" and "unlawful."

Adam Pulver, an attorney with Public Citizen Litigation Group, concluded: "It should not have taken litigation to force the department to do its job to protect students."


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.

Bodycam Footage Shows Ohio Police Shooting Jayland Walker 60+ Times

"The Department of Justice needs to step in to investigate immediately," said former Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner.

Common Dreams staff ·


'Impeach Justice Clarence Thomas' Petition Nears 1 Million Signatures

"He has shown he cannot be an impartial justice and is more concerned with covering up his wife's coup attempts than the health of the Supreme Court," reads the petition.

Jake Johnson ·


'Tipping Point of No Return' Feared as Amazon Rainforest Fires Surge

"Up to now, the Biden administration has only legitimized the Brazilian government's anti-Indigenous and anti-environmental agenda," said Greenpeace USA.

Jake Johnson ·


Biden Urged to Embrace Windfall Tax as Exxon Says Profits Doubled in Second Quarter

"It's time for the president to demand that Congress pass a windfall profits tax on Big Oil and use the revenue to provide rebates to consumers NOW!" wrote Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Jake Johnson ·


Texas Supreme Court Allows Century-Old Abortion Ban to Take Effect

"Extremist politicians are on a crusade to force Texans into pregnancy and childbirth against their will, no matter how devastating the consequences."

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo