Update | Judge Grants Class Certification to 200,000 Student Borrowers in Sweet v. DeVos
November 1, 2019
96% of the 900 class members who submitted affidavits in support of this motion said their lives are worse today than before they went to school
On Wednesday, October 30, a judge certified the class of more than 200,000 borrowers in Sweet v. DeVos, a case that seeks to force the Department of Education to process their borrower defense applications. This victory for borrowers ensures that the voices of former for-profit college students, who have been cheated by their school and ignored by their government for years, will be heard.
The judge also issued a sharp rebuke of the Department’s excuses for its inaction, saying that the Department’s actions, as alleged in the lawsuit, show “the uniform policy of inaction.”
The court goes on:
But here is a fact no one disputes: the Department has decided zero applications since June 2018 (Dkt. No. 20-20 at 20; Compl. ¶ 181). As represented during oral argument, over 210,000 borrower defense claims now remain pending and the Department has failed to grant or deny a single application since June 2018. This is especially striking considering that between July 2016 and January 20, 2017, the Department had decided approximately 27,996 borrower defenses applications (Compl. ¶ 135). Even if this gaping contrast might possibly be explained in part by the preliminary injunction in Manriquez, it nonetheless evidences the uniform policy of inaction alleged here where the proposed class explicitly excludes Corinthian borrowers who are members of the Manriquez class. According to plaintiffs, the Department “has a legal duty to reach a final decision on each borrower defense assertion” and it is undisputed that — despite the swelling backlog — “it has refused to satisfy that duty for well over a year” (id. ¶¶ 52–76; Dkt. No. 42 at 3).
In less than a month after the lawsuit was filed, more than 900 students submitted their testimony to support the certification of this class, and to have their voices heard. The extensive testimony provides a comprehensive summary of the overwhelming harm of the continued debt and stress on students’ lives due to the Department of Education’s refusal to process their claims. Specifically, students reported problems like financial and mental health consequences, and delaying basic life decisions like starting a family or pursuing additional education.
The testimony data show:
- 96% of students reported that their lives are worse today than before they went to school.
- 61% of students reported deferring further education
- 47% of students reported deferring marriage and children
- 32% of students reported continuing to receive payment demands after submitting their Defense to Repayment
- 958 days (2.6 years) is the average time students have been waiting for an answer from the U.S. Department of Education on their Borrower Defense applications
Click here to view testimonial excerpts and videos from students across the country who were defrauded by for-profit colleges.
For more information on this case, click here.