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State Attorney General responds to for-profit college ruling

Delaware Public Media

A federal judge has ruled the U.S. Department of Education must implement the Obama-era “borrower defense” rule it postponed last June.

Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn was among 18 state AGs who sued the Department of Ed last summer over its postponement of the rule meant to protect students defrauded by for-profit colleges.

“So there’s really a two-step process under the borrower defense rule. One of which provides the student some relief from money that they may owe,” he said. “And then the second part of which tries to impose some of the financial burden on the school.”

Denn thinks the Obama-era rule is a logical way of holding for-profit schools accountable if they mislead students.

“Through things such as misrepresenting their likelihood of getting a job upon graduation, the substance of the curriculum, pretty important things when you’re talking about people borrowing large amounts of money to go to school,” he said.

Denn says the lawsuit centered on the way the US Department of Education put the rule on hold without following the proper protocol.

“You can’t just show up and turn everything on its head, you have to go through a process. And a lot of these lawsuits that have come up have been driven by the fact that there is no process,” he said.

Denn notes the ruling does not mean the rule will go forward unchanged.

Agency officials have said Ed Secretary Betsy Devos still considers it bad policy, and will continue working toward finalizing a new rule in its place.

Tuesday's ruling rejected a for-profit college industry group’s challenge to an earlier court decision declaring the Department of Ed’s rule delay unlawful.

Denn says this week’s the ruling also clears the way for a rule banning for-profits from enforcing arbitration agreements with their students.


A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Relay Graduate School of Education is a for-profit school.


Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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