Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who is known for her support for school choice, school voucher programs, and charter schools, recently gave a land marking statement in favor of students.
On Friday, DeVos stated that she will forgive loans for more than 1,500 borrowers, who attended a pair of for-profit colleges that were shut down last year. Former students of Dream Center school, which collapsed last year and shuttered campuses across the nation, sued DeVos on October 22, demanding loan forgiveness and other measures.
Many other major for-profit college operators that have failed in recent years followed the same pattern of shutting down its campuses because of which students had to bear huge losses.
Betsy DeVos’s decision would also cancel the federal loans of students, who attended the Art Institute of Colorado and the Illinois Institute of Art from January 20, 2018 through the end of last year. Students who attended another 24 schools owned by the same company can get their loans erased if they enrolled after June 29, 2018.
Previously, the education secretary was much criticized for her poor handling of the entire case. The loans were expanded by the Obama administration following the collapse of the Corinthian Colleges, whose workers lied to get students enrolled in their institutes.
As tens of thousands of students claimed that they were defrauded by their schools, the Education Department under DeVos turned a blind eye to their plight, leaving them in an oblivious state of how to seek loan cancellations.
During her third annual “back-to-school” tour in September, Betsy DeVos fell victim to online criticism over her visit to Harrisburg Catholic Elementary School, which maintains a strict policy on transgender students. DeVos aimed to highlight “learning environments where local educators and elected leaders are rethinking education” but failed to fulfil it.
DeVos’ previous move to tighten eligibility rules also prompted backlashes from Democrats and a flurry of lawsuits from students and advocacy groups. In the latest case, the Education Department was alleged to have illegally released federal student aid of nearly $11 million to Colorado and Illinois schools even after they lost the seal of approval from their accreditor.
The institutions despite being in trouble, enrolled students that became the source of all the problems. The lawsuit claimed that losing approval could have made the schools ineligible for funding but the department didn’t do that.
Other than announcing the loan forgiveness on Friday, the department shifted blame to the accrediting group, the Higher Learning Commission saying it assigned the schools a “newly developed and improperly defined accreditation status”.
Betsy DeVos said, “The department is committed to holding institutions and accreditors accountable to the students they serve. In this instance, students were failed and deserve to be made whole.”
Though the Higher Learning Commission did not directly respond to DeVos’ allegations, it applauded her decision to provide relief. The decision was welcomed by the students, who felt helpless amid the educational crisis, while the Democrats criticized Betsy DeVos for her partial loan forgiveness to only a small amount of defrauded students.