EDITORIAL: DeVos sides with for-profit schools, against students

SHARE EDITORIAL: DeVos sides with for-profit schools, against students

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

Seeing vulnerable young people cheated by shady for-profit schools year after year doesn’t seem to bother U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

Since moving into the job in February, DeVos has been busy siding with the for-profit career college industry and against students. It would be one thing to tweak the rules to make them fairer to both schools and students. But DeVos appears intent on returning to the days when too many students got an unwelcome introductory course in Fraud 101.


On July 1, the so-called “borrower’s defense” rule was scheduled to go into effect. Among other provisions, it would have wiped away debt for students who were cheated by fraudulent colleges. The rule was finalized last fall after years of thorough discussion involving an array of interested parties. The public record included more than 10,000 comments. DeVos wants to throw all that out and start over, potentially leaving students vulnerable for years to come, and maybe forever.

Last week, attorneys general from Illinois, 17 other states and the District of Columbia sued DeVos and the Education Department to preserve the rule. The attorneys general argue DeVos is effectively rescinding the rule without new negotiated rule-making, which is illegal. We hope the courts settle this quickly, and on the side of the students.

Without the rule, students whose schools shut down, as has happened more than 50 times in Illinois, often remain on the hook for their student loans, even though they can’t complete their degree. If they are at their loan limit, they can’t borrow more to go to another school. They can’t discharge their loans through bankruptcy. That’s what happened after a regulatory crackdown led to Corinthian Colleges and ITT Technical Institute closing hundreds of campuses. The “borrower’s defense” rule would have let those students start afresh.

The for-profit sector has good schools that provide decent educations. But those schools have been overshadowed by operations that fool students into thinking they’ll get good jobs, persuade them to take out huge loans they can never repay and even trick them into signing away their right to sue once they learn they’ve been cheated. Taxpayers are cheated too, as they are forced to make up for defaulted loans.

DeVos should devise solutions to those problems before she begins tossing out rules designed to protect students and taxpayers.

The Latest
Dan Coleman caught and released his lifetime muskie in Wisconsin’s Northwoods to earn Fish of the Week.
There are just two Republicans on the 17-member Cook County Board: Sean Morrison and Peter Silvestri, who is not running for re-election. Morrison knows the board is vulnerable to losing a conservative voice, which he argues serves as a check on power. “I’m very worried,” he said.
Woman unsure whether to discuss the loss with her mother or reach out to the brothers who might not know she exists.
City officials are offering landlords money if they come up with new ideas for buildings that have lost their allure amid downtown’s expansion.
Argyle Street, a pocket of Chicago’s Uptown community area, has long been known as a refuge for Asian immigrants, but residents worry it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to afford to live there.