If Donald Trump is the King of debt, Betsy DeVos is queen.
Not his debt, of course. DeVos is the queen of student debt.
And it’s a crown that she won. Under his watch, collective US student debt has accumulated to more than $ 1.5 trillion. It is a large number. From a perspective, that’s roughly Russia’s annual GDP. This is more than seven times the GDP of Portugal.
But DeVos is not a student debt queen because the amount owed keeps increasing. DeVos is the queen of student debt because, unless he personally went door-to-door selling predatory loans to pay online credentials in snake oil sales, DeVos has done all that. was in his power to ensure that the national student’s anchor extends deeper. the future of more and more students.
The jewels in his crown of debts are brilliant and abundant.
On the one hand, DeVos paused and then announced his intention to abolish the “a paid job”Rule that prevented federal student grants and loans from being used to pay for programs that gave students a heavy debt burden, but not even minimal employment prospects. This decision alone could tie up to 123,000 students with loans for education products the government has already determined to be essentially worthless – adding about $ 840 million in new student debt that is likely unpayable over ten years.
Under the old paid employment rule, the government was about to cut funds for some 800 education programs that failed or defrauded students, adding billions in student debt. At least 98% of these programs were run by for-profit companies.
Of yours also announced plans Dramatically reduce the reasons why students can challenge and possibly pay off student loans made under bad, false or predatory circumstances. And while it’s not yet clear how many students this will impact, or what the overall cost will be, making it harder to exit bad loans will undoubtedly leave more students with more money.
“In the previous rules, it was enough to raise your hand to be entitled to so-called free money” DeVos said, even though his own ministry had already rejected about 40% of loan forgiveness requests.
It is worth noting that, in a single analysis98% of complaints and requests for help came from students participating in programs run by for-profit companies. Only five nonprofit colleges had bad or fraudulent debts and three of them had gone from ownership to for-profit.
Additionally, even when students had open complaints and clear cases of loan and education fraud, against the now-closed, for-profit Corinthian College channel, for example, DeVos actively interceded to limit the amount of debt relief students could get – keep more students even more in debt.
It’s politics. But his preferences for debt and profit also extend to the staff.
DeVos chose Dr. A. Wayne Johnson will lead Federal Student Aid, the federal government’s $ 1.3 trillion global student loan program. Johnson was the former head of Reunion Financial Services, a company that makes money by creating and refinancing student loans. Johnson, DeVos said, “… Actually wrote the book on student debt…” She probably meant it as a compliment.
DeVos also hired Robert Eitel as a senior advisor. Eitel, according to ABC News, was “… hired straight out of the for-profit college sector” and “helped dismantle regulations designed to protect students scammed by for-profit colleges by taking out five-figure loans on the promise they’d get from good jobs… ”
She undermine his own department’s investigations on bad debts and loans and other deception by for-profit colleges – even appointing a dean from one of the for-profit schools under investigation to lead the investigation team. Her too has stopped sharing information on deceptive practices with outside prosecutors.
DeVos has tried to issue rules which makes it more difficult for states to investigate and regulate companies that collect student debt. NPR reported this particular effort this way: “Student loan collectors have been accused of deceiving and abusing student borrowers and have been sued by attorneys general in a handful of states. Now they can be relieved. Debt collectors, that is to say. Not their customers.
And it continues.
In another example, prior to DeVos, the Department of Education had information sharing agreements with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which is responsible for investigating and stopping bad lending practices. These agreements were intended to “… coordinate the provision of assistance and services to borrowers seeking to resolve complaints related to … federal student loans.” The DeVos team literally wrote a letter formally ending these cooperation and information-sharing agreements, making it more difficult to crack down on bad loan practices.
So bad and obvious was DeVos and the administration’s stance on student debt that Seth Frotman, the nation’s ombudsman for student loans, located at CFPB, resigned. In his resignation, Frotman wrote: “… the Department of Education has unilaterally closed the door to routine CFPB surveillance …”
Frotman also noted that the CFPB had helped return more than $ 750 million to “aggrieved student loan borrowers.” But it won’t continue because, Frotman said, rather than “use our authority under the law to defend student loan borrowers trapped in a flawed system,” the leaders “abandoned the very consumers as Congress. instructed to protect “and instead,” serve[d] the wishes of America’s most powerful financial firms.
When asked to comment on Frotman’s accusations of resignation, a CFPB spokesperson wrote: “We hope all of our departing employees find their fulfillment in other activities…” Hope Frotman thrives because that students who have bad loans are unlikely to be.
For DeVos and the new administration to abandon, as Frotman said, student borrowers is bad enough. But they do it in the harsh light of the debt fire that the New York Times reported this week may be worse than known.
According to them research and reporting, by means of Ben miller at the Center for American Progress, up to 30% of all student borrowers are either in default or seriously past due after just five years. And, shocking no one, Miller wrote, “For-profit institutions have particularly horrific results,” citing, “Most students who defaulted between three and five years of repayment attended for-profit college.”
It is not possible that DeVos does not know. It is likely that the queen does not care.
At least when Trump spoke of being a debt king he meant going into debt himself to advance his interests. As the queen of student debt, DeVos overwhelms students with debt she knows many cannot pay in order to advance the interests of those who benefit.