The Department of Education disclosed that it will cancel $150 million of student loan debt, affecting about 15,000 people whose schools closed.
The Obama-era borrower defense relief program which basically ground to a halt under Education Secretary Betsy Devos provided a path for people to ask forgiveness for federal student loans if a shuttered school violated specific laws or misled students.
DeVos was highly serious of the program, reportedly calling it a “free money” giveaway, and sought to change and delay the program. Nonetheless, she was sued, and a federal judge ruled in September the program needed to “go into effect.”
Those qualified for loan forgiveness must have been enrolled at the school when it closed and not enrolled at another Title-IV school within three years of the past school’s closing, according to the Education Department.
Plus loans which parents collected on behalf of children could also be qualified for discharge.
For the time being, nearly 15,000 people have been kicked off by the Education Department as qualified. About $80 million of the $150 million debt is credited to the now-defunct Corinthian schools.
Borrowers will start to be notified of student loan discharges by email on Friday, the department said.
Sen. Patty Murray, the top Democrat on the Education Committee said “This is a good first step, but it’s not good enough,” She called on DeVos to “abandon her attempts to rewrite the borrower defense rule to let for-profit colleges off the hook and instead fully implement the current rule and provide relief to more than 100,000 borrowers who were cheated out of their education and savings.”
Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander, the Education Committee chair, eralier debated that the “Obama administration went too far in rewriting this provision by setting overly broad and vague standards and as a result, put taxpayers on the hook for too many loans.”