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Baltimore Sun: Maryland joins suit against U.S. Education Secretary over student loan repayments

07.06.2017

California and 17 other states sued Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, alleging she unlawfully delayed new regulations designed to protect student loan borrowers from being ripped off. (July 6, 2017)

By Liz Bowie.

Attorneys General in 18 states, including Maryland, have filed suit against the U.S. Department of Education and Secretary Betsy DeVos in an attempt to keep in place rules that helped protect students from the predatory practices of some for-profit colleges.

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh joined with others to allege that DeVos broke federal law by taking away the Borrower Defense Rule. The rule, written during the Obama administration, was created so that students who were defrauded could have their federal loans forgiven. The rule also gave the U.S. Department of Education the ability to get the amount of the loan back from the colleges.

The Borrower Defense Rule was set to take effect on July 1, but in June DeVos said she would delay portions of it.

In her announcement saying the rules would be delayed and rewritten, DeVos said they created "a muddled process that's unfair to students and schools."

Education Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Hill called the lawsuit by attorneys generals "ideologically driven" and said the now-delayed rules suffered from "substantive and procedural flaws" that need to be addressed.
Maryland becomes first state to outlaw scholarship displacement by public colleges

"That is why the Secretary decided it was time to take a step back and hit pause on these regulations until this case has been decided in court and to make sure these rules achieve their purpose: helping harmed students," Hill said in a statement.

The Borrower Defense Rule was written after for-profit colleges went out of business and left their students with large debt and no degree. Corinthian Colleges, a chain of for-profit colleges, was one of those that collapsed.

"Maryland has thousands of students who have been victimized by Corinthian and other deceitful for-profit schools," Frosh said in a statement.

"The law requires, and we demand, that the Department of Education implement the rules that protect our students from predatory practices."

Attorneys General from Virginia, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia were among those who filed suit.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

liz.bowie@baltsun.com

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