Bonamici Condemns Education Department’s Decision to Reverse Student Loan Borrower Protections
WASHINGTON, DC [06/15/17] – Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici, Vice Ranking Member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, issued the following statement after the Department of Education suspended protections for student loan borrowers:
“Secretary DeVos’s decision to dismantle protections for students and taxpayers is deeply troubling. The Department of Education’s Borrower Defense to Repayment and Gainful Employment regulations were put in place to prevent students from being misled or defrauded by higher education institutions, or from taking on enormous debts for degrees or credentials of little value.
“Following the collapse of for-profit schools like Corinthian Colleges and ITT Tech, the Department of Education under President Obama took steps to provide relief to borrowers who had been misled and saddled with debt. The Borrower Defense to Repayment and Gainful Employment rules establish a strong backstop to shield students from deceptive practices by institutions. The regulations improve transparency and help students make informed decisions about which programs are worth the cost. And when an institution defrauds its students, the protections make sure that the school can’t force its students into arbitration and that the students have a clear process for having their debt discharged.
“Secretary DeVos’s decision to upend these protections demonstrates unmistakably that this administration is on the side of for-profit companies, not hardworking students. It makes no sense to go back to a time when taxpayers subsidize institutions of dubious quality and students are fleeced while trying to get ahead. We need to keep in place strong rules that protect students, prevent fraud, and safeguard taxpayers’ investment in higher education.”
The Borrower Defense to Repayment regulation was scheduled to take effect on July 1. It creates a streamlined process for borrowers to have debts discharged when a school closes abruptly or defrauds its students. The regulation also limits mandatory arbitration agreements and restrictions on class action lawsuits that deny students legal options, and it requires institutions to share in the costs of loan discharges. The Gainful Employment regulation, which has been in effect since 2015, prohibits career education programs at both for-profit and non-profit institutions from continuing to access federal student aid if graduates have high debt-to-income ratios. The Department of Education announced yesterday that it will renegotiate both the Borrower Defense to Repayment and Gainful Employment regulations.
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