Trump’s Dilemma: Reject DeVos’ DeVos Debt Cancellation or Veterans Wrath
WASHINGTON – Amid rising coronavirus deaths, a faltering economy and falling poll numbers, President Trump faces a new dilemma with possible consequences for his re-election: should he support the efforts of its secretary of education to reverse the cancellation of loans for students defrauded by their colleges?
On Tuesday, President Nancy Pelosi sent Mr. Trump’s bipartisan Congressional resolution to overturn an Education Department rule that would make it considerably more difficult for students to cancel their federal loans, even if they could show that ‘they were victims of unscrupulous universities.
If the president signs it, he will hand Education Secretary Betsy DeVos a humiliating defeat, the first overthrow of a major Trump administration settlement. If vetoed, it risks enraging veteran groups who have spoken out strongly against Ms. DeVos’ loan forgiveness policy – and whose favor he has long been courting.
“I am really proud to be a veteran today,” said Tasha Berkhalter of Lima, Ohio, a veteran whose for-profit college degree proved worthless after her sudden bankruptcy. “I hope President Trump will show people that after the service we still count.”
The rule, which was finalized by the Ministry of Education in September, enhanced standards established under the Obama administration for student borrowers to prove that their colleges defrauded them and to have their federal loans wiped out. The rule is expected to go into effect on July 1 – if Mr. Trump allows it.
The Senate gave the final vote on the rule overturning measure in March, although the coronavirus quarantine delayed Ms Pelosi from sending it to the president.
In a tweet Announcing that she sent the resolution, Pelosi said it would “protect tens of thousands of defrauded students, many of whom are suffering more than ever.” She urged the president to sign it “without delay”.
Mr. Trump hesitated. that of the White House administration policy statement, released in January before Congress voted to overturn it, said the regulations would restore “due process, the rule of law and student choice” and that the president’s advisers recommended a veto. But Mr. Trump told Republican senators in March he was “neutral” on the rule.
The resolution places Mr. Trump in a dilemma. He underlined his commitment to veterans and military service members, and last year announced that he would forgive loan debt for permanently disabled veterans. The move, he said, ensured that “our wounded warriors are not grappling with mountains of student debt.”
But several veterans groups have led the effort to persuade Republicans in the Senate vote against one of the administration’s most important policies for student borrowers. Ten Republicans joined Democrats in securing Senate passage, 53 to 42.
“With a bipartisan vote in the Senate and House of Representatives, it is clear that Congressional support for veterans, military personnel, their families and survivors is above partisan politics,” 34 said. groups. wrote in a letter to Mr. Trump, including Veterans Education Success, Blue Star Families and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.
Groups have started broadcast of a television advertisement during Fox News broadcasts this week, begging the president to sign the resolution.
The little-known loan cancellation rule was recognized when the Obama administration used it to extend debt relief to tens of thousands of students affected by the implosion of two major chains. for-profit universities, Corinthian Colleges and ITT technology, in 2015 and 2016. The Education Department determined that the two channels had used deceptive recruiting tactics and that many of their former students should have their debts wiped out.
Veterans have long been considered among the groups most vulnerable to predatory recruiting tactics because of their lucrative GI Bill benefits. The benefits are especially great for for-profit schools, as federal law requires these schools to obtain at least 10 percent of their income from sources other than student loans supported by the Department of Education. The benefits of the GI Bill help schools meet this quota.
Ms DeVos said the Obama-era rules amounted to “free money” and that the previous administration lacked the infrastructure to deal with complaints in a manner that was fair to students, schools. and taxpayers. Its changes raised the bar for borrower aid applications, forcing applicants to individually prove that a school knowingly misled them and, even if students were defrauded, that they suffered financial harm by the deception. They also set a three-year deadline for complaints.
The effort to repeal the rule has drawn even non-partisan groups like the American Legion, which represents two million members, into the fight.
In a letter, Legion National Commander James W. Oxford said the rule was “fundamentally rigged against fraudulent student loan borrowers.” He said thousands of veteran students over the years had been “promised their credits would be transferred when they would not, given bogus or misleading placement rates in marketing, promised an educational experience when of their recruitment, but gave something completely different “.
“This type of deception against our veterans and our military has been a lucrative scam for unscrupulous actors,” he wrote.
Within minutes of the Senate vote, Ms Berkhalter did what she has often done over the past decade when discussing her student loans: she cried.
Ms Berkhalter served in the military as a motor transport specialist for five years before being honorably released on medical parole in 2005. The same desire to “try to do things right and keep the bad guys out” which brought her to the military also blew her up on the opportunity to attend the ITT Technical Institute in 2006 to study criminal justice.
But long before she graduated in 2010, she had unanswered questions about ITT’s promised but non-existent “high-tech” equipment and its outdated books. An admissions officer at another school warned her that her credits would not be transferred. ITT officials asked him to take out loans to cover the cost of his tuition while they “waited” for his GI Bill check, then asked him to take out more loans to cover inexplicably rising costs.
“They were very convincing. I was too confident. I just wanted to go to school, ”she said.
After graduation, her dream job was so close that she could see it. She was visiting a criminal mental health treatment center where she was interviewing for a new job as a case manager, and her future bosses showed her a small corner office that would be hers. There was even a window.
By the time she got to her car, they called and offered her the job. The next day, the offer was canceled when the company said it could not honor a degree from the ITT Technical Institute.
Ms Berkhalter had completed her four years of study, culminating in a 40-page thesis and 25-minute presentation, and a certificate attesting that she had obtained a Bachelor of Science degree. His $ 75,000 in GI Bill funds were gone.
“But it was for a degree that nobody takes seriously,” Ms. Berkhalter said. “Every time I told employers where I was going, I was shown the door.”
Today, Ms. Berkhalter owes nearly $ 100,000. Sometimes, she said, she struggled to feed her children more than eggs and hot dogs. She is staying at home with her daughter, who was born with hip dysplasia, as she said she couldn’t afford daycare. Her husband’s salary barely covers the bills and they depend on a variety of government assistance programs. The family of six pray before getting into their 17-year-old vehicle, which seats four.
Ms Berkhalter has a pending loan forgiveness application from the Education Ministry, which she said hoped to give her another chance to graduate and give her four children a better life.
“It would be a life changing,” she said, “to have this cloud removed above my head.”