Standing Against Students: Here’s How Betsy DeVos is Supporting Shady For-Profit Colleges
There are countless reasons why Secretary Betsy DeVos is unfit to lead the Department of Education, all reflecting a fundamental reality: she does not put students first. The most recent example of Secretary DeVos’s troubling approach is her decision to choose the interests of predatory for-profit colleges over those of defrauded students.
Shady, predatory for-profit colleges run a devastating scheme. They use deceptive and manipulative marketing practices to prey on students — including veterans — , they make false promises, and they leave students with crippling debt and, often, no degree. Bad actors like Corinthian College and ITT Tech are two of the worst examples, and it was their behavior that prompted the Obama Administration to put new protections in place for students.
Unfortunately, Secretary Betsy DeVos is rolling back those protections and putting fraudulent for-profit colleges before students. Here’s how:
1. Staffing the Department of Education With Peopled Tied to Some of the Industry’s Worst Actors:
DeVry University is a for-profit college that was found to have scammed students with false advertisements. Yet Secretary DeVos appointed a former top DeVry official to oversee the Department of Education’s fraud unit.
And Secretary DeVos has also appointed to the Department numerous other officials with close ties to companies that have histories of defrauding students.
2. Disbanding the Department’s Fraud Unit:
Given that Secretary DeVos appointed a former top official from a predatory for-profit college to run the unit that investigates for-profit colleges, it came as no surprise when it was announced in May that the fraud unit will be disbanded entirely — effectively ending any further investigations into these harmful and predatory for-profit colleges.
3. Gutting Existing Protections for Students:
Not only is Secretary DeVos undermining investigations and enforcement actions against these predatory companies, but she’s also gutting the existing protections put in place to stop this abuse in the first place.
In light of the abuses brought to its attention, the Obama Administration took action, establishing commonsense rules that helped to ensure that schools act in the best interest of their students, not their profits. Unfortunately, Secretary DeVos is gutting and eliminating these protections.
For example, during the Obama Administration, the Department of Education required career training institutions to prepare students for “gainful employment in a recognized occupation” in order to qualify for federal student aid. That means that if an education program isn’t delivering on the promises it is making to students about preparing them for good-paying jobs, the Department of Education would stop providing student aid for students to participate in those programs, protecting both students and taxpayers in the process.
Secretary DeVos has already announced multiple delays to the full implementation of this rule, and now, there are reports that she plans to eliminate it altogether.
4. Weakening Relief for Students Who are Victims of Fraud:
Right now, Secretary DeVos is in the process of weakening an Obama Administration rule that helps provide relief for students who have been defrauded. Secretary DeVos has proposed a new rule that would effectively end student debt relief for these students. The Department is even considering requiring those students to default on their loans before they can file a claim for help. This means that students who have been lied to by shady companies will be forced to jump through burdensome regulatory hoops and suffer long-lasting damage to their credit before even being considered for relief.
In the United States of America, students should not have to gamble on whether the college they attend will provide them with a quality education and improved job prospects, nor should they face crippling debt that they will never be able to pay back.
Secretary Betsy DeVos has repeatedly put the interests of fraudulent for-profit colleges ahead of the students they have hurt — from scrapping rules to protect and help students saddled with debt, to filling her department with former administrators of some of the most unscrupulous for-profit colleges.
We can and must do better for our students. We need to strengthen job training programs, expand and improve technical and career education, make college more affordable and reduce the burden of student loan debt, and provide students with the hands-on skills they need to compete in the 21st century innovation economy.
I will continue to fight for those who have been harmed by predatory for-profit colleges and all students who are seeking higher education opportunities. Unfortunately, Secretary DeVos has made clear time and again that she will not join us in these efforts.