WASHINGTON— American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten on the Department of Education’s final borrower defense regulations:
“Predatory for-profit institutions have wreaked havoc on the U.S. higher education landscape by ripping off students seeking only the promise of a better life. They fought for years against any commonsense federal regulations stopping their predatory practices, and thousands and thousands of students have been hurt as a result of their unfettered actions. For years, the AFT campaigned for these for-profits to be reined in—and after the disastrous collapse of Corinthian Colleges and ITT Tech, our voices, and others’, are finally being heard.
“We’re glad that the Department of Education has finalized rules to formalize students’ rights to discharge loans when their school has defrauded them. The AFT has been calling for the automatic group discharge of loans for eligible borrowers, and while more needs to be done, these regulations are a step in the right direction. They eliminate forced arbitration clauses that for-profits use, recognizing that students shouldn’t have to sign away their rights just to attend school.
“For students who had their school shut down, these regulations will automatically cancel their debt if they don’t enroll at a new institution. They will ensure students are warned of an imminent collapse and require institutions to be fiscally responsible. And the department has taken action on renewing eligibility for Pell Grants for students at closed schools.
“Nevertheless, a number of concerns remain. The department continues to impose a statute of limitations for borrowers to be reimbursed on any payments they’ve already made on their student debt. And the regulations weaken the amount of collateral a school must post when there is a fear it may shut down.
“As we noted when the draft regulations were released in June, the department needs to do more than just ‘talk the talk.’ It also needs to ‘walk the walk’ by enforcing and policing them. Luckily, defrauded students have an ally in Hillary Clinton. Hillary has said she will streamline the process of debt cancellation and pursue every legal remedy against schools that defraud students. We need a president who will stand up for students, not one who creates fake universities in his own corrupt image.”