Opinion | Giving the Faculty Profiteers a Free Hand

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A federal choose despatched the proper message final week when he blocked Schooling Secretary Betsy DeVos’s suspension of an Obama-era rule that enables college students defrauded by for-profit faculties to have some or all of their federal scholar loans forgiven.

This was his second ruling in a swimsuit filed by attorneys basic from 19 states who argued that Ms. DeVos had damaged the legislation by delaying the rule from taking impact, and so they demanded that it’s instantly reinstated. The choose, Randolph Moss of Federal District Courtroom in Washington, had earlier discovered that Ms. Devos had damaged the legislation, and final week he invalidated Ms. Devos’s try and dismantle the rule, however stayed his ruling for 30 days to provide the Schooling Division time to reply. The subsequent step ought to be to order the division to grant debt aid to the 1000’s of scholar debtors who’ve utilized and are clearly eligible underneath the unique rule.

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The rule, generally known as “debtors protection,” is rooted in a provision of the Larger Schooling Act of 1965 meant to carry the debt burdens of scholars who have been misled by their faculties. The rule was designed to compel faculties to supply a good schooling and to chorus from predatory practices — like mendacity about profession alternatives or steering college students into ruinously priced loans — which were properly documented during the last decade.

Ms. DeVos has basically made the Schooling Division a subsidiary of the for-profit school business. Republicans in Congress who want to cover from this subject are being peppered with complaints from constituents victimized by the for-profit faculties — notably veterans, who’ve been focused by corporations that covet their G.I. advantages.

Ms. DeVos has already proposed tightening loan forgiveness rules to make it virtually impossible for those defrauded by predatory schools to get relief. She has also proposed rescinding the “gainful employment” rule, which enforces a longstanding Higher Education Act requirement that career education programs “prepare students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation.”

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The Education Department wants to replace this important rule with additional disclosure requirements — covering debt, expected earnings, completion rates and other measures — that would apply to all colleges. This disregards the breathtaking fraud that has been documented specifically at for-profits — and the fact that their students take on greater debt and are more likely to default on loans.

The department has defended the decision to jettison the employment rule by describing it as a burden to institutions of higher learning. But in a letter this month, the American Council on Education, which represents about 1,700 colleges, argued persuasively that rescinding the rule, instead of perhaps modifying it, would damage the interests of students, colleges and the public. Still others have portended another round of lawsuits by arguing that the decision to rescind is itself unlawful because the Education Department has not disclosed the factual basis of its decision.

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Ms. DeVos and her cronies in the for-profit industry seem to think that they can plow ahead with these and other damaging proposals regardless of opposition. But it will not take long before the wider public focuses on the fact that the Education Department is undermining higher education to line the pockets of an industry where schools can get up to 90 percent of their revenue from federal student aid. That position will be difficult to defend at election time.

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