Dems call on DeVos to make rewrite of student protection rule public

Dems call on DeVos to make rewrite of student protection rule public
© Greg Nash

Congressional Democrats are pressuring Education Secretary Betsy DeVosElizabeth (Betsy) Dee DeVosDebt relief is now harder for students of for-profit colleges House fails to override Trump veto of bill blocking DeVos student loan rule DeVos issues new rule ordering more coronavirus relief to private schools MORE to be more transparent as the Education Department rewrites an Obama-era rule which put predatory schools potentially on the hook to repay the loans of the students they cheated.

In a letter to DeVos on Tuesday, Rep. Rosa DeLauroRosa Luisa DeLauroThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump, GOP on defense as nationwide protests continue The coronavirus crisis has cut the child care sector COVID-19 workplace complaints surge; unions rip administration MORE (D-Conn.) and Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayTrump officials seek to reassure public about safety of a potential coronavirus vaccine Overnight Health Care: Trump refuses to say if he slowed down coronavirus testing | US COVID-19 cases rise, marking ugly contrast with Europe | Trump health officials to testify on continued dangers of coronavirus pandemic The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Rep. Mark Takano says Congress must extend worker benefits expiring in July; WHO reports record spike in global cases MORE (D-Wash.) said they are “deeply concerned” about the lack of full transparency surrounding the borrower defense to repayment rule.

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DeVos announced in June that she’s planning to redo the rule, which set out to better protect student borrowers against misleading and predatory practices by creating consistent, clear, fair and transparent processes to file claims.

In announcing its plan to re-write the rule, DeLauro and Murray said the department created a subcommittee on financial responsibility and solicited nominations for individuals with expertise in financial accounting standards, but stipulated, without any stated reason or legal rationale, that subcommittee meetings will not be open to the public.

“Discussion about how to protect taxpayers and evaluate colleges' financial conditions should not take place in private,” they said.

“Federal taxpayers provide a $130 billion investment each year in student aid for higher education, and the Department is required to obtain stakeholder and public feedback on the rules for administering this funding.”

The Democrats pointed to a recent Government Accountability Office report, which found problems with the Department's transparency in measuring financial responsibility, particularly among for-profit colleges.

“Making meetings about the financial stability of colleges private and closed to the public — with representatives and protocols largely under your Department’s control — only raises further questions about the department’s intentions in the forthcoming rulemaking process,” they wrote.

DeLauro and Murray requested DeVos open all subcommittee meetings to the public and provide an analysis and rationale by Nov. 16 for keeping the meetings private.