140,000 people are still waiting for debt relief thanks to Trump's backsliding

The rule of the Obama era, known as the Borrower 's defense until reimbursement, allows students who believe they have been cheated by their college to apply for a loan cancellation. The idea is that if they did not benefit from the promised education, they should not have to repay their debt.

The number of these apps soared while the Obama administration cracked down on for-profit colleges. For example, at the end of their program, nursing students sometimes discovered that they did not have the right accreditation, which prevented them from getting a job.

Last fall, more than 200,000 people had applied for loan cancellation, the majority of which had been entrusted to for-profit colleges. Nearly 48,000 people benefited from debt relief and 9,000 were denied.

But no requests were processed between June and September of last year, the most recent data available, while the administration was opposed to the implementation of the rule . But they continued to pile up. The department received 35,000 additional requests during this period.

A spokeswoman for the education department did not answer Monday questions about the number of applications that have been processed since the decree in October ordering the administration to go ahead with the 39, loan cancellation.

In December, the ministry announced that it would begin canceling loans for borrowers eligible for a specific type of loan cancellation. There is an automatic loan waiver for those whose schools have been closed during registration.
Since March 1, the ministry has canceled more than $ 168 million of debt from some 16,000 borrowers eligible for a closed school exit, according to data obtained by the National Student Legal Defense Network from the Ministry of Finance. # 39; Education. The group sued the ministry in November for allegedly continuing to recover these loans.

In many cases, the government bears the costs. Only loans guaranteed by the federal government are eligible for the rebate. Nearly half of the canceled debt was due to borrowers who attended one of the former for-profit Corinthian colleges, now gone.

But borrowers who are not eligible for the automatic discharge are still waiting for the verdict on their application. They are usually required to show that the school has misled them, for example by presenting them with excessive placement rates.

"We are not aware that other applications have been processed," said Adam Pulver, a lawyer with the Public Citizen advocacy group, who sued the department. the delay of the rule.

None of his clients have received updates regarding their loan write-off request, he said.

The ministry took a step forward in fully implementing the borrower's defense rule earlier this month by informing schools of how the rule, which also bans colleges from entering the country. to require students to sign binding arbitration agreements would be applied.

DeVos, who has been criticized for taking advantage of associations with for-profit colleges, insisted that the processing of compensation claims be suspended after a representative group of college-based goals California's lucrative sued agency that was trying to prevent it from taking effect.

Democratic attorneys general of 18 states and Washington sued the court for the delay in 2017, forcing the court to abide by the law for more than a year. In September, the judge ruled in favor of the states, calling the delay of the ministry "arbitrary and capricious", and ordered the immediate application of the rule in October.
DeVos called the rule "bad policy" and asked the department to rewrite it. The agency offered to offer partial debt relief to eligible students, based on the income of their peers who have followed similar programs in other colleges.

Abby Shafroth, a lawyer at the National Consumer Law Center, is worried that a new rule may retroactively change the claim process.

"I have a number of customers who have been waiting since 2016 to hear about their candidacy – and still nothing from the department, no schedule." This may give the impression that these applications have been sent in. a black hole, "said Shafroth.

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