Tag Archives: DeVos

NSLDN and HERA Statement on Automatic Closed School Discharge Announcement

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

December 14, 2018

MEDIA CONTACT:

press@nsldn.org | 202-734-7495

NSLDN & HERA Statement on Automatic Closed School Discharge Announcement

Washington, D.C. – The National Student Legal Defense Network (NSLDN) issued a statement responding to the Department of Education’s announcement that it would begin discharging the loans of students who attended schools that closed. NSLDN filed a lawsuit in November, on behalf of Housing and Economic Rights Advocates (HERA), demanding that the Department of Education immediately fulfill its legal obligations and discharge the loans of tens of thousands of students whose schools or campuses have closed.

“This appears to be a positive development, but we will continue pressing the Department to ensure that every single eligible borrower receives the full and complete relief they deserve,” said NSLDN President Aaron Ament. “This automatic discharge rule was put into place because the impact of a school closure is so devastating on students’ plans and careers, and because many borrowers were not aware of the right to request a discharge. If it weren’t for Secretary DeVos’s unlawful delay of the rule in the first place, students would have gotten this relief in 2017 and public interest organizations like HERA would not have had to divert their limited resources to solve problems caused by this Department.”

“While it is heartening to hear that the Department is planning to do its job by stopping collections against students whose schools clearly failed them, it is important to note that the Department has already proposed rules that would severely limit this same relief in the future,” said HERA Managing Attorney Noah Zinner. “We urge the Department to reconsider these new restrictions on student debt relief.”

The Department of Education’s Borrower Defense Rule, a regulation finalized in 2016, instituted a provision known as Automatic Closed School Discharge – in short, the provision requires the Department to automatically discharge the loans of all eligible borrowers harmed by the abrupt closure of their school. The automatic aspect of the relief is especially important because students are often unaware of their rights – fewer than half of eligible borrowers affirmatively apply for relief.

Under Secretary DeVos, the Department delayed the July 1, 2017 implementation of the Borrower Defense Rule three times, and in September 2018, a federal judge held that the delays were unlawful, arbitrary, and capricious. After the judge’s order, the rule went into effect as if the Department’s illegal delays had never happened. However, until this announcement the Department and its servicers have continued to collect on loans that it is required by law to discharge.

Since November 2013 nearly 3,600 schools have either closed a campus or stopped operations entirely. Borrowers eligible for closed school loan discharge should receive the following benefits:

  • Complete loan discharge: Borrowers who get a closed school discharge are no longer obligated to repay any outstanding loan principal, accrued interest, or collection costs.
  • Refund of payments already made: Borrowers should be reimbursed for any and all payments made to date on the loan, including through wage garnishment or tax refund offsets
  • Federal aid eligibility: Borrowers should be made eligible for new loans and grants, including Pell grants.
  • Clear credit history: Any adverse credit history due to the loans should be deleted by the credit reporting agencies.

Housing and Economic Rights Advocates is a California statewide, not-for-profit legal service and advocacy organization dedicated to helping Californians — particularly those most vulnerable — build a safe, sound financial future, free of discrimination and economic abuses, in all aspects of household financial concerns. HERA provides free legal services, consumer workshops, training for professionals and community organizing support, creates innovative solutions and engages in policy work locally, statewide and nationally. Learn more at www.heraca.org

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The National Student Legal Defense Network (NSLDN) is a non-partisan, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that works, through litigation and advocacy, to advance students’ rights to educational opportunity and to ensure that higher education provides a launching point for economic mobility.

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(HERA in the News) From the California Dept. of Justice: Attorney General Becerra Calls on Education Secretary DeVos to Reject Toothless Student Borrower Defense Proposal

Monday, March 5, 2018 PRESS RELEASE
[CONTENT AND IMAGE IS FROM THE CA DEPT OF JUSTICE WEBSITE, PLEASE CONTACT THEM FOR MORE INFORMATION]

SACRAMENTO — California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, leading a coalition of 20 attorneys general, today submitted a letter to the U.S. Department of Education (Department) criticizing proposals that the Department offered during its recent rulemaking sessions to redraft regulations on borrower defense and financial responsibility. Borrower defense is the process by which students who have been defrauded by their schools can have their federal student loans discharged. For example, after the collapse of Corinthian Colleges in 2015, the California Attorney General assisted the Department in developing streamlined procedures to provide critical loan relief to tens of thousands of defrauded students around the country.
“We’re calling on the Secretary of Education to do her job and protect students, not fraudulent for-profit colleges,” said Attorney General Becerra. “So far, the Department has drafted borrower defense rules that do little to protect student borrowers. Instead, these rules would allow unscrupulous, for-profit sham colleges to rip off students and often the U.S. taxpayer with little worry about paying a legal penalty. As a Member of Congress, I supported reforms to the student lending system and defended regulations that protect student loan borrowers. As Attorney General, I will do everything in my power to ensure that all who seek a higher education can do so without having to worry about the motives of for-profit schools.”
Please visit State of CA DOJ Office of The AG for the full press release. Contact: (415) 703-5837, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

(HERA in the News) Attorney General Becerra Issues Statement on Department of Education’s Illegal Decision to Provide Only Partial Loan Debt Relief to Corinthian Students

December 21, 2017 from Highland Community News:

SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra issued the following statement on the news that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has decided to provide only partial relief on federal student loans to defrauded Corinthian students:

“Under federal law, Secretary DeVos is required to provide full – not partial – relief to Corinthian students. The California Department of Justice will continue to hold her accountable through our ongoing lawsuit. Corinthian students had their American Dream stolen by a so-called higher education institution. This Department of Education needs to carry out its legal duty and help them rebuild their lives.”

Background: In 2013, the California Attorney General’s Office led the charge against for-profit Corinthian Colleges and its subsidiaries, seeking to put an end to abusive practices that left students under a mountain of debt and far too often without the jobs Corinthian had falsely promised its degrees would provide. Corinthian specifically targeted low-income, vulnerable students through false advertisements that misrepresented job placement rates and the value of its educational programs. Corinthian illegally used the seals of the armed forces in its advertisements to recruit veterans. It also engaged in illegal debt collection practices. The California Attorney General’s Office ultimately obtained a $1.1 billion judgment against Corinthian for its misconduct and the permanent closure of all Corinthian schools in California.

The California Attorney General’s Office was instrumental in moving the Department of Education to implement a borrower-defense process to grant widespread, expedited loan relief to defrauded Corinthian borrowers. Based on a joint investigation with the California Department of Justice, the Department of Education under President Obama announced that tens of thousands of former Corinthian students were entitled to federal student loan relief. The Department announced a streamlined process by which former Corinthian students could apply for that relief.

On December 14, Attorney General Becerra took Secretary DeVos to court for withholding student loan debt relief for Corinthian students. The federal Higher Education Act entitles student loan borrowers to relief if they are defrauded by their schools. More than 50,000 such claims submitted by Corinthian students are pending before the Department of Education, 13,000 from Californians. Today, the Harvard Law School Legal Services Center Predatory Lending Clinic and Housing and Economic Rights Advocates joined Attorney General Becerra’s lawsuit.

 Also see Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s press release on the State of California Department of Justice website here.