(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Senator Patty Murray, the top Democrat on the Senate education committee, sharply criticized Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and the Trump Administration for delaying the “borrower defense” rule that would provide defrauded students with debt relief and hold predatory institutions accountable for cheating thousands of students in Washington state and across the country. Senator Murray’s comment follows a letter she sent with her colleagues to Secretary DeVos last week urging her not to delay implementation of the rule, stating that it would provide much needed relief to student borrowers who were misled or abused by their colleges, including for-profit college chains like Corinthian and ITT Tech, and were subsequently saddled with student loan debt, often without receiving a degree.

“This decision is extremely disappointing, especially for so many students in Washington state who’ve been left with crushing student loan debt and little to show for it,” Senator Murray said responding to the announcement. “There is a reason the previous Administration took serious steps to crack down on predatory colleges like Corinthian, which abused the system for too long to target students, including many veterans.”

“This is not the end of the story. I will continue to do everything in my power to push Secretary DeVos and the entire Trump Administration to do the right thing for the thousands of hardworking students who’ve been defrauded,” Senator Murray continued.

In Washington state alone, up to 5,700 residents and out-of-state students attending school in Washington state fell victim to the predatory practices of institutions like Corinthian's Everest, Heald, and WyoTech campuses and are eligible for immediate debt relief. The “borrower defense” rule was approved in October 2016, and was set to go into effect July 1, 2017. The new rule includes further protections for students, including banning forced arbitration and requiring for-profit schools to notify prospective students of poor repayment outcomes. Additionally, the rule protects taxpayers by placing risky schools on the hook to provide funds to cover the costs of future fraud or closure. Delays in relief and to the borrower defense rule have also been strongly condemned by student veteran groups and state attorneys general.

As of January, more than 3,000 students at all types of colleges in Washington state, and nearly 70,000 nationwide, had submitted requests to have their loans discharged but were still awaiting decision on their applications for relief, and the Department has not provided updated numbers since that time. With today’s announced delay, it is unclear what fate those students will face going forward.

Read a June 14 New York Times report on the Department of Education’s decision to delay the Borrower Defense rule HERE.

PDF of Sen. Murray’s June 8, 2017, letter can be found HERE.