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Sen. Murray Slams Proposed Rule From Education Secretary DeVos On Student Loan Debt Relief

Rich Pedroncelli
AP Photo
Students found the doors locked at this ITT Technical Institute campus in California closed after the for-profit college announced in 2016 that it was shuting down.

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.”

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.