Education

18 states sue Betsy DeVos and Education Dept. over delay of Borrower Defense Rule

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, seen here testifying on Capitol Hill last month, is accused of unlawfully delaying a federal rule stemming from the Obama administration.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, seen here testifying on Capitol Hill last month, is accused of unlawfully delaying a federal rule stemming from the Obama administration.
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Attorneys General from Massachusetts, New York, and 16 other states filed suit against Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and her department Thursday, accusing DeVos of breaking federal law and giving free rein to for-profit colleges by rescinding the Borrower Defense Rule.

The filing by 18 states and Washington, D.C., asks a U.S. District Court to declare the Education Department's delay of the rule unlawful and to order the agency to implement it.

The Borrower Defense Rule was adopted by the Obama administration last November and had been set to take effect this month. It was created to protect students by making it "simpler for students at colleges found to be fraudulent to get their loans forgiven," as NPR's Ed team has reported. But the rule was put on hold in June, one month after DeVos said her agency would reevaluate the rule.

"Since day one, Secretary DeVos has sided with for-profit school executives against students and families drowning in unaffordable student loans," Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said in a news release about Thursday's court filing. "Her decision to cancel vital protections for students and taxpayers is a betrayal of her office's responsibility and a violation of federal law. We call on Secretary DeVos and the U.S. Department of Education to restore these rules immediately."

The attorneys general who filed the lawsuit are from California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

"These rules served as critical protections against predatory for-profit schools that exploit hardworking students – students who are simply trying to invest in their own education and future," said New York Attorney General Schneiderman. He added, "When Washington abdicates its responsibility to protect New Yorkers, we won't hesitate to step in."

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