AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Case Study

Democracy Forward Foundation v. Department of Education

Lawsuit Probes Reason for Delay of Industry-Opposed “Borrower Defense Rule”

We filed suit against the Department of Education (“the Department”) after the Trump Administration refused to disclose communications between Department officials and a for-profit college group that is suing to overturn the Department’s “borrower defense rule.” The suit, which seeks to probe the delay of critical student borrower protections, comes on the heels of former industry lobbyist and Secretary Betsy DeVos senior adviser Robert Eitel’s refusal to explain his role in ending the industry-opposed borrower defense rule.

In May 2017, the California Association of Private Postsecondary Schools (“CAPPS”), a for-profit college lobbying group, filed suit against the Department to challenge the borrower defense rule. Three weeks later, the Department delayed key provisions of the rule, citing the CAPPS suit as the reason for the delay. That same day, CAPPS withdrew the preliminary injunction motion it had filed.

Prior to the suit, we filed a Freedom of Information Act request in June seeking, among other things, communications between Department officials and CAPPS. In response to our lawsuit, the Department produced documents.

Significant ties between senior Trump Administration officials and the for-profit college industry have been documented, including Education Secretary DeVos’s reported investment in for-profit colleges, and the appointment of a former DeVry University administrator to oversee the Department’s student-aid enforcement unit.

Documents

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