18 states sue Betsy DeVos for failing to implement student loan protections

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Almost 20 attorneys general across the nation filed suit Thursday against U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for her decision to delay the implementation of regulations meant to protect students who were cheated by predatory colleges.

This morning, two separate lawsuits filed against DeVos and the Education Department allege violations of the Administrative Procedure Act, the federal law which dictates the process for creating and revising regulations. The rule was finalized in November 2016 following the collapse of Corinthian Colleges, a national for-profit chain that operated Everest College campuses in the Chicago area before its closure.

Additionally, without the protections of the current Borrower Defense Rule, many students who are harmed by the misconduct of for-profit schools are unable to seek a remedy in court.

After the Obama administration announced the rules, tens of thousands of students filed claims for loan forgiveness - the vast majority of them against disgraced for-profit colleges.

"Since Day 1, Secretary DeVos has sided with for-profit school executives against students and families drowning in unaffordable student loans", Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said in a statement. Since taking the helm at the Education Department earlier this year, DeVos, the daughter-in-law of Amway founder Richard DeVos and a strong proponent of charter schools, has been chipping away at the student protection rules enacted by the Obama administration.

A spokeswoman for DeVos did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

The rule would have clarified the federal loan forgiveness process for students who were defrauded or misled by their colleges.

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The Trump administration delayed the implementation last month, citing a legal challenge from an association in California that represents for-profit universities.

In May, DeVos signaled her intent to target the borrower defense rule and subsequently said that its implementation would be delayed.

Meanwhile, former students who wish to sue their schools remain bound by the arbitration agreements they signed.

The states involved in the lawsuit against DeVos and the Department are Massachusetts, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

The second lawsuit [PDF] was filed by a coalition of 18 states and the District of Columbia.

Today's complaint asks the Court to declare the Department's delay notice unlawful and to order the Department to implement the Borrower Defense Rule. If that weren't enough of a burden, some of the degrees provided by these for-profit institutions have failed to prepare students with a viable pathway to getting a good job and are often not even worth the paper on which they're printed.

They said the department and DeVos were using the pending litigation as "a mere pretext" to repeal the rules and replace them with one that "will remove or dilute student rights and protections".