Eric Schneiderman for Attorney General

Eric Schneiderman Among 19 AGs Suing Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Over Student Loan Protections

July 7, 2017

As published by The New York Daily News, on July 6, 2017.

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman joined attorneys general from 17 other states and the District of Columbia in a suit to stop Education Secretary Betsy DeVos from ending rules to protect students from abusive for-profit colleges.

The lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court in Washington demands implementation of borrower defense rules created under President Barack Obama’s administration and meant to take effect July 1.

The 2016 rules aimed to make schools financially responsible for fraud and bar them from bullying students into resolving complaints outside court.

DeVos, a longtime supporter of for-profit schools who has had ties to the student loan debt collection industry, announced the rules would be delayed and rewritten in what she termed a “regulatory reset” on June 14.

But Schneiderman and the Democrat AGs who filed suit consider them important protections for vulnerable college students and their families.

“These rules served as critical protections against predatory for-profit schools that exploit hardworking students,” Schneiderman said. “Yet the Trump administration continues to work against New York’s students — instead allying themselves with unscrupulous actors in the higher education industry.”

U.S. Department of Education spokeswoman Liz Hill said the AGs’ suit is politically motivated.

“The state attorneys general are saying to regulate first, and ask the legal questions later — which also seems to be the approach of the prior administration,” said Hill.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, who’s leading the coalition that filed the lawsuit, called DeVos’ actions a violation of federal law.

But in announcing her plan to suspend the student-borrower protections in June, DeVos said she is simply seeking a do-over for poor legislation.

“Unfortunately, last year’s rulemaking effort missed an opportunity to get it right,” DeVos said at the time. “The result is a muddled process that’s unfair to students and schools and puts taxpayers on the hook for significant costs.”