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23 state attorneys general sue DeVos over student loan forgiveness change

Nearly two dozen of the country's Democratic attorneys general are suing Education Secretary Betsy DeVosElizabeth (Betsy) Dee DeVosDeVos knocks free college push as 'socialist takeover of higher education' Anti-bullying scholarship program offers 'Hope' for students — and school choice National reading, math tests postponed to 2022 amid coronavirus surge MORE over her rollback of Obama-era regulations that allowed students to seek student loan relief if they were scammed by their higher education institution.

“If only college students in America could count on the U.S. Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, to fight for them as she has consistently done for the predatory for-profit education industry that has deceived and cheated these very students,” California Attorney General Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraHispanic leaders coalesce in support of Lujan Grisham as HHS secretary Clyburn: Biden falling short on naming Black figures to top posts Biden picks first Latino to lead Homeland Security MORE, who spearheaded the complaint with Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, said in a statement Wednesday.

He added, “Under her leadership, the U.S. Department of Education has replaced critical borrower protections with a process that makes it virtually impossible for victimized students to get the relief they should qualify for. With today’s lawsuit, we continue to fight for student borrower protections so that all who seek a college degree can do so without being cheated by exploitative for-profit colleges.”

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The policies in question, often referred to as borrower defense, are required to exist because of amendments made to the Higher Education Act in 1994.

The Obama administration restructured the policies in 2016, making it so that students could apply for federal loan forgiveness if colleges got them to enroll under false pretenses. The policy especially helped students who had been fleeced by fraudulent for-profit colleges that had lied about the success of their graduates.

DeVos's revised version of the policies heightens the requirements students must meet to gain student loan relief. Students must now show that their income has been affected by their institutions' false statements even if they can prove that their colleges were dishonest in the first place.

The secretary's revision was initially turned away by bipartisan legislation passed by Congress, but President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says GOP senators have called to congratulate him Biden: Trump attending inauguration is 'of consequence' to the country Biden says family will avoid business conflicts MORE vetoed the bill, arguing that it "sought to reimpose an Obama-era regulation that defined education fraud so broadly that it threatened to paralyze the nation’s system of higher education."

The House was unable to repeal the veto, allowing the new regulation to go into effect July 1.

Angela Morabito — the Education Department's press secretary — slammed the lawsuit, calling it "another grandstanding, politically driven lawsuit meant to grab a cheap headline."

"To any objective observer, our borrower defense rule clearly protects students from fraud, ensures they are entitled to financial relief if they suffered harm and holds schools accountable," Morabito told The Hill.