Administration

DeVos's student aid chief resigns from Education Department

The Education Department official who was tasked by former Secretary Betsy DeVos to handle the agency's student loan portfolio resigned this week.

Newly sworn-in Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a statement Friday that he accepted Mark Brown's resignation. Brown had been appointed to a three-year term that was scheduled to end in March 2022.

The resignation paves the way for Cardona to install his own official into the post as the Biden administration faces a wave of pressure from progressives to cancel tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. 

"I accepted the resignation of Federal Student Aid Chief Operating Officer Gen. Mark Brown and thanked him for his service to the U.S. Department of Education. As the nation continues grappling with economic disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the need to deliver relief and fortify pathways to the middle class is more urgent than ever," Cardona said in a statement.

Robin Minor, the deputy chief operating officer, was named as the acting head of Federal Student Aid as the administration searches for a permanent replacement for Brown.

The Education Department's student aid office is in charge of the federal government's distribution of Pell Grants and loans to students. Roughly 45 million people borrow student loans. 

"Under my leadership, the Department of Education will work to strengthen college as a reliable pathway to the middle class while protecting students and loan borrowers. In service to our nation's students, the Department's Federal Student Aid division will renew its focus on streamlining access to and management of federal financial aid, easing the burden of student debt, and carefully stewarding taxpayer dollars," Cardona said.

Progressives had pushed the Biden administration to remove Brown from his post, saying a DeVos appointee should not remain in the department. DeVos was a particularly unpopular Cabinet secretary for Democrats, who lambasted her advocacy for private schools. 

Liberals will likely closely watch who the Biden administration chooses to permanently replace Brown given disagreements with the White House over student loan forgiveness. Biden has advocated for canceling $10,000 in student debt per borrower via legislation, while progressives have pressed him to take executive action to forgive $50,000. 

Progressive grumbling over Minor's spot as the acting head of the student aid office swiftly began following the announcement of Brown's resignation, with liberals knocking her tenure in DeVos's Education Department as chief compliance officer. 

"While we are thrilled that Mark Brown will no longer be the head of federal student loans at the Department of Education, we are alarmed by the ascension of Robin Minor - who has fought tooth and nail against student debt relief - as acting [Federal Student Aid] head," tweeted the Revolving Door Project, a progressive government watchdog group.

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