Langevin Rejects DeVos Rule that Denies Debt Relief to Students Defrauded by Predatory Colleges

Jan 16, 2020 Issues: Economy and Jobs

WASHINGTON -- Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) voted today in favor of H.J. Res. 76, which blocks a rule submitted by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos that makes it more difficult for students defrauded by predatory, for-profit colleges to get student debt relief. These colleges may have used unlawful practices that leave students with a large amount of debt, worthless degrees, and no job prospects. The bill passed the House by a vote of 231-180.

“This resolution will protect students who have been defrauded by predatory schools,” said Langevin. “It is terrible that Americans pursuing a quality higher education to get ahead in life have been targeted in such a shameful way. The federal government should be in the business of creating pathways to success, not promoting policies that fuel fraudulent institutions.”

In 2016, after the closure of Corinthian Colleges and ITT Technical Institute, President Obama issued the Borrower Defense Rule, creating a streamlined process to help defrauded borrowers. Since taking office, Secretary DeVos has refused to implement it. Instead the Department has worked to prevent the Obama-era rule from going into effect, even after a federal court order called for its implementation.

“Rising college costs and mounting student debt are top concerns for many Americans seeking the education and skills needed to compete in today’s economy,” continued Langevin. “This includes hardworking people who have been victimized in their pursuit of the American Dream. If a college’s leaders broke the law in search of profit and purposely misled students, their victims should not be saddled with overwhelming debt.”

Under Secretary DeVos, the Department submitted a new Borrower Defense Rule that forces people seeking relief to navigate a much more burdensome process even if the school has clearly violated the law. It also restricts how much relief students can receive and eliminates automatic relief for students whose schools close before they finish their programs.

“While incredibly important, this is just one step to provide relief to college students. Congress must be persistent and push for comprehensive legislation that ensures that students and taxpayers are not left on the hook for exploitative practices in the first place,” added Langevin. “We must support students on their journey to earning a quality degree and successfully entering the workforce.” 

An analysis of the DeVos rule estimates that the share of eligible loan debt forgiven under the new rule will drop from 53 percent using the Obama-era standard to just three percent.