Democratic U.S. Sen. Patty Murray has come out strongly against a proposed rule from Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos that addresses debt relief for students defrauded by colleges. Murray said it tilts too far in favor of schools, especially for-profit colleges, and would leave students in financial jeopardy.
DeVos had blocked an Obama-era rule from going into effect. Now she’s proposed her own rule governing whether students who are deceived by their schools can get their federal loans forgiven.
Consumer advocates say it puts the burden of proof on students to show that the school deliberately misled them.
Murray, the ranking Democrat on the Senate committee overseeing education, said this proposed rule would leave students with loans from worthless colleges in the lurch.
“It sends a message to for-profit colleges that they can defraud students and will not be held accountable,” she said.
DeVos said in a statement that the proposed rule would hold schools accountable for the damage instead of taxpayers.
“Our commitment and our focus has been and remains on protecting students from fraud,” DeVos said.
But critics say it includes provisions that put students at a disadvantage. For example, it would allow higher education institutions to include clauses that prevent students from joining class-action lawsuits.
Murray is encouraging people to weigh in on the proposed rule during the 30-day public comment period.
“I know that so many people struggle to go to college and they put the small amount of money they have into it, and when they’re defrauded by a for-profit university that has no intention of giving them what they’re paying for, our country has to stand up for them,” Murray said. “So I encourage people to make comments. I encourage people to fight back. That’s the only way we have to make sure this rule is not implemented.”