Project Praises Warren, Clyburn Student Debt Bill, Urges Immediate Action to Cancel Debts Of For-Profit College Students | Press Release
July 23, 2019
Earlier Today, PPSL Announced Nearly 900 Former For-Profit College Students Submitted Testimony Explaining the Harsh Impact of Federal Student Loan Debt on their Lives as Part of Lawsuit Against Betsy DeVos
Jamaica Plain, MA – The Project on Predatory Student Lending (PPSL) today issued the following statement after U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren and U.S. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn introduced a sweeping bill to cancel student loan debt for millions of Americans.
Statement from Eileen Connor, Project on Predatory Student Lending Legal Director:
“Student loan debt is one of the biggest challenges our country faces, threatening to hold back an entire generation. Today’s bill is a bold step to solve the unsustainable debt-financed higher education system and help the millions of students left in its wake. We commend Senator Warren and Majority Whip Clyburn for their leadership on tackling student loan debt and so many education issues.
“As part of this sweeping policy, we should also take action right now to cancel one of the most egregious types of student loan debt — for hundreds of thousands of students cheated by abusive and predatory for-profit colleges. All the U.S. Department of Education has to do is follow the law. Today, nearly 900 defrauded students of for-profit colleges raised their voices and urged Betsy Devos to do her job and cancel the debts of the more than 158,000 students who have borrower defense claims before the Department. The Department’s refusal to act is harming the very students they are supposed to protect.
“We can build momentum for bold action on student debt today, starting with this immediate solution–it doesn’t require legislative action — it just requires the Department of Education to follow existing law. It should be the first step toward the broader policy change that is desperately needed in the way we support higher education for everyone.”
Today, the Project on Predatory Student Lending announced that nearly 900 defrauded former for-profit college students submitted personal testimony in a lawsuit, Sweet v DeVos, against the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. They are seeking to force the agency to follow existing law and issue the debt relief to which the former students are entitled.
In less than a month after the lawsuit was filed, hundreds of students voluntarily submitted their testimony to have their voices heard. The extensive testimony provides a comprehensive summary of the harsh real-life impact of the continued debt on students’ lives due to the Department of Education’s refusal to process their claims. Specifically, students reported the overwhelming harm that this debt and uncertainty has had on their lives, from financial and mental health consequences, to delaying basic life decisions like starting a family or pursuing additional education.
The testimony data shows:
- 96 percent of students reported that their lives are worse today than before they went to school.
- 92 percent of students reported experiencing physical or emotional harm.
- 61 percent of students reported deferring further education because of no decision on debt.
- 47 percent of students reported deferring marriage and children because of no decision on debt.
- 32 percent 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.
The case, Sweet v DeVos, was filed on June 25, 2019 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California in the San Francisco Bay Area. The plaintiffs, represented by the Project on Predatory Student Lending at Harvard’s Legal Services Center along with Housing & Economic Rights Advocates (HERA), are suing on behalf of a class of more than 158,000 former students who have filed applications for borrower defense to repayment. As the complaint states, the Department of Education is intentionally ignoring students’ borrower defense claims, has taken no action to resolve them, and in many instances, forcibly collects loans in spite of the students’ claims that the loans are not valid.
About the Project on Predatory Student Lending
Established in 2012, the Project on Predatory Student Lending represents former students of predatory for-profit colleges. Its mission is to litigate to make it legally and financially impossible for federally-funded predatory schools to cheat students and taxpayers. The Project has brought a wide variety of cases on behalf of former students of for-profit colleges. It has sued the federal Department of Education for its failures to meet its legal obligation to police this industry and stop the perpetration and collection of fraudulent student loan debt.