Since Donald Trump appointed Betsy DeVos the Secretary of Treasury, she has made it her top priority to roll back regulations protecting students who attend for-profit colleges that go out of business before they have graduated– without refunding the thousands they paid in tuition.
That includes rules put in place by the Obama Administration after Corinthian College went under in 2015 leaving about 80,000 students – including about 13,000 in California – without an education or their money.
Under DeVos’ leadership, the Education Department has refused to pay the students their money.
Today, the Attorney General of California, Xavier Becerra, filed a lawsuit in federal court in San Francisco against DeVos and the Education Department, charging the government has violated the Administrative Procedures Act by “unlawfully delaying the approval of claims filed by defrauded students.”
“What Secretary DeVos is doing is unconscionable,” Becerra said today in a statement.
“After having their American Dreams stolen by a so-called higher education institution,” added Becerra, “Corinthian students are now being denied critical relief by a Secretary of Education hostile to their plight.”
Although DeVos announced in June that the Education Department was pulling back on the rules, Becerra argued in court papers that the delay in processing the payments “is unreasonable and illegal because the Department has already determined that these students qualify for specific, expedite relief.”
The lawsuit says that the students are eligible for relief because the courts have found that Corinthian defrauded them in violation of California’s consumer protection laws.
In the past week, the Education Department began changing the 1994 rules by which students can demand repayment if they were defrauded.
Before DeVos froze the payments, Becerra said the government had paid about 28,000 of the students who had been cheated.
Maura Healey, the Attorney General of Massachusetts, said officials in DeVos’s department are making the problems worse for these students who qualify for debt relief by garnishing their wages and seizing their tax refunds.
Corinthian operated under different names including Everest, Heald, and WyoTech.
Healey and the attorneys general in Illinois and New York are also said to be filing similar lawsuits.
This is another case of Trump’s Education appointee being anti-student, unfriendly to consumers and ignoring the plight of those striving to improve themselves who are victims of fraud.
DeVos is a millionaire who has rapidly rolled back a number of rules put in place by President Obama to curb abuses by predatory for-profit colleges that take advantage of students and operate without proper capitalization. Perhaps that is why she is the most reviled Education Secretary in American history.