When some major for-profit colleges collapsed a few years ago, the Obama administration concluded that their students were misled by unscrupulous educators, who peddled false claims and made misleading promises. To that end, the Democratic administration launched a loan-forgiveness initiative for defrauded students and crafted new safeguards.
Then the Trump administration took office. As the New York Times reported overnight, things are quite a bit different now.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos proposed on Wednesday to curtail Obama administration loan forgiveness rules for students defrauded by for-profit colleges, requiring that student borrowers show they have fallen into hopeless financial straits or prove that their colleges knowingly deceived them.
The DeVos proposal, set to go in force a year from now, would replace Obama-era policies that sought to ease access to loan forgiveness for students who were left saddled with debt after two for-profit college chains, Corinthian Colleges and ITT Technical Institute, imploded in 2015 and 2016.
The new rules won’t take effect right away – a public-comment period is poised to get underway – but they are scheduled to be implemented next summer.
And if this sounds at all familiar, it’s because this is hardly the first time Donald Trump’s Education secretary has taken steps like these.
The Obama administration also created a special team at the Department of Education to closely scrutinize dubious claims from for-profit colleges. Once DeVos joined the cabinet, she tapped a dean from a for-profit college to lead the team – and wouldn’t you know it, investigators examining alleged abuses found themselves “marginalized, reassigned or instructed to focus on other matters.”
If I didn’t know better, I might think protecting students from predatory practices isn’t exactly Team Trump’s top priority at the U.S. Department of Education.