Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro teamed up with 18 other states to sue Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and the U.S Department of Education for abandoning federal rules that protect college students from abusive loan practices.
The lawsuit was filed Thursday in federal court in Washington and demands implementation of borrower defense to repayment rules. Last month, DeVos announced rules adopted by the Obama administration would be delayed and rewritten, saying they created "a muddled process that's unfair to students and schools."
The rules were originally designed to hold higher education institutions accountable for cheating students and taxpayers out of billions of dollars in federal loans.
They were created under President Barack Obama's administration and were to take effect July 1.
Student loan borrowers would be eligible to have their debt forgiven if the institution was found using deceptive practices such as misrepresenting job placement rates.
"These safeguards for students to protect them from abuse by for-profit higher education institutions are being abandoned by the very federal agency that should be enforcing them," Shapiro added. "If Secretary DeVos and her Department won’t protect our college students, I will."
Pennsylvania has over 200 colleges, universities, and trade schools, and about 100 other for-profit educational institutions. The average student loan debt for a Pennsylvania college graduate is currently the third highest in the country at $34,798.
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"With a rising number of students burdened by college loan debt or in default, this is exactly the wrong time for the Department of Education to abdicate its responsibility to protect students from deceptive practices by these for-profit schools," Shapiro said.