More than 158,000 student loan borrowers filed a class action lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education and its head, Secretary Betsy Devos on Tuesday.
The student loan borrowers, who are victims of fraud by for-profit colleges, accused the agency and Sec. Devos of failing to comply with an existing regulation known as “borrower defense.”
Under the regulation, students and former students are eligible for federal loan cancellation or debt relief if the college misled them or violated state laws relating to their education.
Allegations against Department of Education, Sec. Devos
In their complaint, the plaintiffs stated that since 2018, the Department received applications for debt relief from over 160,000 former for-profit college students. However, the agency “has not granted or denied a single application and it has no timetable to do so.”
They alleged that the Department under the leadership of Sec. Devos is “ignoring the growing pile of borrower defenses.”
Additionally, the plaintiffs alleged that the Department intentionally adopted a policy of inaction and obfuscation.”
They are requesting the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to compel the Department and Sec. Devos to implement the borrower defense regulation.
Lawsuit aims to hold the Department of Education and Sec. Devos accountable
The Harvard Law School’s Project on Predatory Student Lending and the Housing & Economic Rights Advocates (HERA) are representing the plaintiffs.
In a statement, Toby Merrill, the Director of Project on Predatory Student Lending, said, “We’re suing Betsy DeVos and the Department of Education to hold them accountable and protect students across the country.”
“The law is clear: students who experienced fraud should not be required to pay back federal loans that should never have been made by the Department in the first place. Since Betsy DeVos continues to ignore these students’ legal rights, the only way they can have their voices heard is through the courts,” added Merrill.