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The defence to repayment regulation, intended to take effect this year, sought to simplify the process for student-loan borrowers, who held claims of being defrauded by their education institution, to obtain financial relief or be fully cleared from loan re-payment by the federal government. The regulation aimed at offering critical protections for borrowers who were subjected to misleading and predatory practices by their institutions and improve both the Department and states’ ability to oppose harmful practices. The gainful employment rule, currently in force, evaluates programmes based on their graduates’ debt-to-earnings ratios, identifying those programmes that systematically leave students with more debt than they can repay with their income post-graduation. The regulation aims to increase accountability of the education marketplace, and confronts career training programs—specifically for-profit programs—that do not provide their graduates with a reasonable return on investment. Programmes failing to meet the requirements can be declared ineligible to award federal student aid.
By mid-June the Department of education under DeVos announced that it would establish rulemaking committees to review the Borrower Defense to Repayment (BDR) and Gainful Employment (GE) regulations to better serve students and improve ‘overly burdensome and confusing’ procedures . Shortly after, at the end of June, the Department announced it would finally ‘press pause’ on the GE and grant institutions an additional year (till July 2018) to comply with disclosure requirements, that necessitated them to communicate their performance to students, and in promotional materials. The suspension of the Borrower Defence to Repayment rule before it could take force last month, caused Eighteen Democratic attorneys general, led by Attorney General Maura Healey, to sue DeVos and the Department of Education for delaying borrower protection rules.
Recent moves of the Education Department under Secretary Betsy DeVos, that seek a regulatory-reset on signature Obama-era regulations, can be seen as part of a broader effort to reduce regulatory burdens and a contended federal overreach into the management of higher education. Heated debate has been sparked surrounding the rollback of the two measures, with arguments brought forth that the moves will reopen a timely process finally at the expense of taxpayers, and lead to for-profit colleges emerging as the clear winners.