PAWTUCKET – Democratic
Policy and Communications Committee (DPCC) Co-Chair David N. Cicilline is
calling on U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to reverse a
proposed policy change that protects fraudulent schools at the expense of the
students they victimized.
“Once again, we’re seeing the Trump
administration putting special interests ahead of working people,” said
Cicilline. “No one who’s been a victim of fraud should be told to fend for
themselves. It’s ridiculous that Secretary DeVos wants to make it even more
difficult for students to recover money that’s been stolen from them by shady
for-profit institutions. She should withdraw this proposal today.”
Since 1993, students who have been misled by
their institution of higher education have had a legal right, legislated by
Congress, to relief from their federal student loans. In 2015, the Obama
administration took steps to streamline the loan relief process for more than
15,000 students who were victims of fraud. Last month, however, the U.S.
Department of Education proposed a new rule to reduce loan relief for defrauded
students by $12.7 billion over 10 years and make it nearly impossible for
students to have their loans discharged.
According to recent reports, Rhode Island is the
7th-worst state to live in for folks paying off student debt. The average
student loan balance is $31,497. Seven in 10 American college graduates have
student loan debt today. One out of every five owes more than $100,000 on the
loans they took out to earn their degree. Student loan debt is a bigger problem
today than either credit card or auto debt.
This is not the first time Secretary DeVos has
taken the side of fraudulent universities over students. In May, it was revealed that investigations into
fraud at for-profit universities had been significantly reduced after she hired
numerous former employees at for-profit colleges to work in the Department of
Education. DeVos has also taken steps to slow down requirements by for-profit universities to
disclose the amount of debt held by their graduates.
From 2005-2010, President Trump operated the
for-profit Trump University. The President eventually paid settlements in the
amount of $25 million to former students who alleged they were defrauded.