Dear Secretary DeVos:
We write today to seek the status of each borrower defense group discharge application submitted by State attorneys general and urge you to provide full borrower defense discharges to qualified borrowers covered by these group applications.
According to data recently provided by the Department of Education (Department), attorneys general of 20 states have submitted group discharge applications on behalf of defrauded borrowers in their states. These applications cover students who attended American Career Institute, Anthem University, Corinthian Colleges, Inc., Globe University and Minnesota School of Business, Kaplan University, Lincoln Technical Institute, and Westwood College. Earlier this month, Attorney General Kwame Raoul of Illinois and Attorney General Phil Weiser of Colorado submitted group discharge applications on behalf of Illinois Institute of Art and Art Institute of Colorado students who were misled about their institutions' accreditation status.
The applications rely on findings made by the Department itself or supporting evidence, collected and provided by State attorneys general as part of the application, establishing the group's eligibility for federal loan discharge under the borrower defense provision of the Higher Education Act. In addition, State attorneys general have often already done the exacting work of assembling enrollment and contact information of borrowers within the groups--streamlining administrative processes for the Department and making these loans particularly easy to discharge.
Despite this, you have inexcusably failed to review and respond to these group applications. In a recent decision in Williams v. DeVos, a federal district court found that you must review group discharge applications submitted by State attorneys general and that you must cease all involuntary collection activities against borrowers covered by State attorney general group discharge applications. Please provide an update on the status of each of the group discharge applications submitted by State attorneys general.
In addition to your failure to respond to group discharge applications from State attorneys general, you are forcing at least 158,110 borrowers with pending borrower defense claims to languish without decision. These borrowers have been waiting an average of 882 days each. In fact, it has been nearly one year since the Department publicly reported any borrower defense approvals.
It is time for your cruel delays to end and for you to provide federal student loan discharges to which defrauded borrowers are entitled under the law; the courts have ordered it, students are begging for it, Congress expects it, and justice demands it.