Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, who has blatantly abandoned federal protections for students and taxpayers in swiftly enacting the agenda of the predatory for-profit college industry, added insult to injury on Friday, declaring that under the rules adopted by the Obama administration, “all one had to do was raise his or her hands to be entitled to so-called free money.”
DeVos, speaking at the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference in Michigan, was, based on the Detroit News account of the speech, referencing the Obama Department of Education’s “borrower defense” rule, which implements a long-standing federal law giving defrauded students the right to have their federal loans cancelled. DeVos has put that Obama rule on hold, along with other reforms implemented after revelations of shocking abuses by for-profit colleges ― using deceptive and coercive recruiting tactics, overcharging, underspending on instruction, lying to government oversight agencies, and defrauding taxpayers of billions of dollars.
Numerous for-profit colleges have faced federal and state law enforcement probes for fraud and other abuses. Yet DeVos, pushed by paid for-profit college lobbyist and early Trump supporter Newt Gingrich, has become the industry’s full-time advocate.
DeVos’s Friday remark is false and utterly contemptuous of the hard-working students ― veterans, single moms, and others ― who typically attend for-profit colleges. The rule required much more than that a student raise a hand; the Department had to find that a college had engaged in serious misconduct before any student had loans forgiven. Students who attended honest, quality schools wouldn’t be eligible. In addition, no student would get actual money under the rule, just cancellation of debt incurred by predatory practices.
Finally, even such loan cancellation would not be “free”: The former student would not get their expensive private loans, which many for-profit students are forced to take out to pay the astronomical tuition, cancelled; in most cases they would not get renewed eligibility for grants or scholarships already used; and they already would have put in countless hours studying, commuting, and attending classes, often with no useful degree to show for all their precious time.
But perhaps none of that occurred to sheltered billionaire Betsy DeVos, speaking to wealthy Republicans at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island in northern Michigan. These defrauded students are not seeking free money, but a chance to start again with nothing after being ripped off by cruel scam artists.
Free money would be something like running a fraudulent college that gets millions, even billions, from taxpayers and students without providing a decent education. Or operating deceptive Trump University. Or being born the daughter of Edgar Prince, who became a billionaire industrialist. Betsy DeVos is a disgrace.
This article also appears on Republic Report.