Dear Mr. VP,
Yesterday, Betsy DeVos released a plan to weaken the “borrower defense” rule. What’s that? It allows debt-saddled students to seek help if they believe they were defrauded by a for-profit institution. Specifically, a for-profit institution later shut down for fraud (i.e. ITT Tech and Corinthian Colleges). An Obama-era plan allowed these students to apply for debt relief or get help transferring their credits to another institution of higher ed.
Under the new DeVos plan, it will be, to quote educational policy analyst Bob Shire, “next to impossible” to have debt relieved. The proposal could eliminate approximately 85% of the relief that would be given under the Obama plan.
To quote myself, which I’m going to do just like a professor assigning his own book in a course, “For-profit colleges target low-income students and students of color.” With shady admissions practices and incredible default rates on loans, students do not get what they signed up for.
Now, those students who were legitimately defrauded by these institutions, who were SHUT DOWN FOR FRAUD, will be trapped in their loans. Do you know what happens if you can’t pay your student loan? You can’t get a transcript. If you can’t get a transcript, you can’t transfer your credits to another institution. They’re useless. You’ve got thousands or tens of thousands of dollars in debt and nothing to show for it.
And here’s a gem I just found on ITT’s Student FAQ. “The decision concerning the acceptance of credits earned in any course taken at the school is made at the discretion of the receiving institution. It is unlikely that any credits earned at the school will be transferable to or accepted by any institution.”
In other words, even if you get a transcript, you’re probably still screwed.
Do you know what else an institution might not do if you owe them money? Verify your degree to an employer. So you can’t get a job to pay your loan, and you can’t pay your loan because you can’t get a job.
It’s not a surprise that DeVos doesn’t want to punish for-profit colleges, but instead wants to punish defrauded students. After all, her financial disclosure indicated she had investments in a company that collects student loan debt, and investments in companies that own and operate for-profit schools.
(Aside: The DeVos family LOVES shady businesses. After all, they own pyramid scheme Amway, too. Draining the swamp!)
So there you go. A person who has financially benefited off the backs of students in debt wants to make sure students stay in debt, and a person who has financially benefited off of for-profit education doesn’t want to cast aspersions on for-profit education. Well, I’m shocked.
But don’t despair. If after reading all this, you need a hero, see this: someone loosed one of Betsy DeVos’s $40 million yachts (one of ten owned by her family — yes, you read that right, ten) from its moorings today and set it adrift. We can only hope she was on the yacht at the time and will remain at sea indefinitely.