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Audio: DeVos to make schizophrenic students harder to make debt relief



The US Department of Education is proposing changes to the Obama era rules that provide debt relief to students who have been cheated out of their colleges.

If you attended a school that misguided you or committed misconduct, there is a government program called "Borrower" Defense for Repayment that helps to get relief from your federal student loan. The rules that explain this program were introduced in 2016 after a series of prominent cases with some for-profit colleges.

But critics and the administration have said that these arrangements are too far – and too many students could apply for relief.

"Basically, all students could raise their hands and qualify for free money," says Mary Clare Amselem, a political scientist at the Conservative Heritage Foundation. When colleges misbehave and students forgive these loans, she explains, taxpayers are on the hook for the bill. "Shrinking the budget for borrower defense is definitely a good thing for American taxpayers."

The Department of Education estimated that the program would cost the federal government about $ 1

4.9 billion over the next ten years under the 2016 regulation] The biggest change in DeVo's recast of the rules is that students who want to forgive their debts need to show that schools intended to harm them with misleading advertising, reckless disregard for the truth or financial damage.

But opponents worry that raises the bar too high.

"There is so much responsibility for students alone," said Ashley Harrington, a lawyer at the Center for Responsible Lending, "and no other part of this puzzle." [19659009] Harrington was involved in the negotiations of this new rule. She says that in this negotiation process she witnessed how for-profit lawyers made a number of proposals, many of which appear in the new rules.

"This new version reads like a roadmap on how For-Profits can continue to behave badly and avoid accountability," says Harrington.

According to an analysis by the progressive think tank, The Century Foundation, 98.6 percent of the almost 100,000 students requesting borrower defense claimed that they were misled by profit-driven schools. According to the report, especially veterans or low-income students were at risk.

For-profit schools are not the enemy, insists Linda Rawles, an Arizona-based attorney who primarily helps nonprofit schools comply with federal regulations. She was also at this negotiating table and supported the proposal by DeVos.

"I do not think it leaves the schools off the hook at all," she says, "when they commit frauds, it's got teeth." 19659014] In a statement, Minister DeVos agrees: "Our commitment and focus has been on protecting students from fraud." And she says the new regulations will set clear rules for doing so.

However, students' interest groups fear that clear rules might be so strict that few students would qualify.

Changes can be publicly commented for 30 days.
A big question the department poses: Should help be delayed only for students, or should people who actively repay their loans receive help?

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.


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