Twitter Roundup: Examining the Education Department’s Implementation of Borrower Defense

Twitter Roundup: Examining the Education Department’s Implementation of Borrower Defense


This morning, the House Committee on Labor and Education called in Secretary Betsy DeVos for a hearing: Examining the Education Department’s Implementation of Borrower Defense.

Specifically, the committee was examining why the Education Department continued to collect student loan payments from student borrowers found to have been defrauded by predatory institutions like Corinthian Colleges and ITT Tech.

Don’t have four hours to sit down and watch the whole hearing? Check out some highlights from our live coverage on Twitter!

Hanging over the morning’s hearing were internal Department of Education memos released by NPR that revealed how that career staff in the Borrower Defense Unit urged DeVos uphold the findings of the previous administration and grant full relief to borrowers from fraudulent institutions:

The memos show this unit reviewed thousands of borrower complaints against now-defunct, for-profit colleges, including Corinthian Colleges and ITT Technical Institute. Just weeks before DeVos was sworn in as secretary, the unit recommended to the department’s political leadership that these borrowers deserve no less than full relief from their student debts. Betsy DeVos Overruled Education Dept. Findings On Defrauded Student Borrowers

Meanwhile, DeVos released her own plan for how these borrowers’ claims should be handled and elaborated upon it in her opening statement. While she claimed that it was based on a scientific methodology, the math doesn’t bear that out.

In some cases, students would have to earn negative income to qualify for only partial relief. Representative Mark Takano (D-CA) sits on the House Committee on Labor and Education and did the math for us:

When asked about the NPR story by Representative Jahana Hayes (D-CT), DeVos admitted to not reading the article, asserting that she was too busy helping students to read everything written about her. However, we think a Secretary of Education should be expected to do their homework before a hearing of this gravity.

Several of the Democratic members of the committee shared stories of their constituents who should have been granted relief, only to suffer the consequences once the DeVos’s Department of Education started opposing that relief. One of Representative Frederica Wilson’s (D-FL) constituents died after not being able to pay her medical bills because her wages were being garnished by the Department of Education.

Other representatives, like Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), pointed out the flaws in DeVos’s income-based version of student borrower relief.

Generally, there seemed to be a split along party lines. Republicans used spurious claims for relief from students who didn’t like their professor or didn’t get the best dorms as the norm and claimed defrauded students just wanted a handout.

Democrats, on the other hand, questioned the Secretary’s loyalties: were they with students, or with for-profit, predatory institutions?

Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) ended the hearing by returning the focus where it should be: not on examining the circumstances of individual borrowers, but on the widespread fraud of for-profit institutions that’s already been proven.

Those were just the highlights from our coverage this morning. For our full Twitter thread on the hearing, click here.

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