Education Secretary and champion of for-profit colleges Betsy DeVos is once again siding with this controversial industry and against students who were defrauded by schools that tricked them into paying top dollar for a bottom-dollar education.
Amid the collapse of scandalized for-profit school chains like Corinthian Colleges and ITT, the Education Department had sought to simplify the process of allowing defrauded students to get their federal loans refunded.
But that was before DeVos became our nation’s top education regulator. Now, the Associated Press reports that the Secretary is considering a measure that would provide defrauded students with only half of a refund of their student loans.
Sources note that under DeVos’ plan refunds provided to students would be dependent on the average earnings of students in similar programs and schools.
Consumerist has reached out to the Dept. of Education for additional information on the possible change. We’ll update this post when we hear back.
Consumer advocates raised concerns about DeVos’ plan to half loan forgiveness, noting that many students have already received full forgiveness.
“It would be totally different from what was happening under the last administration,” Jennifer Wang, an expert with the Institute of College Access and Success, tells the AP. “It’s not equitable; it’s not fair for students. If she provides partial relief, it’s that she only cares what’s fair for schools and not students.”
The New Borrower Defense?
The change would likely be part of the administration’s revamp of the Borrower Defense rule.
Under the rule — which as been around for decades, but seldom used until recent years — borrowers could have their federal loans forgiven if they attended schools that were found to defraud students.
Following the closure of ITT Technical Institute and Corinthian Colleges, the Obama Administration began the process of revising and redrafting the rules.
The Department had decided to overhaul the rule in Jan. 2016 following an influx of claims from students shortly after Corinthian Colleges Inc — the operator of Heald College, Everest University, and WyoTech – closed in 2014.
Under the revised Borrower Defense rules — unveiled in Oct. 2016 — a student’s federal education loans can be forgiven if they can prove their college used deceptive practices to convince them to enroll.
The rule was also revised so that schools receiving federal aid can no longer put forced arbitration clauses in their student enrollment agreements. This is important because these clauses prevent students from suing the school in court and from joining their complaints together in class actions. While arbitration is now commonly used in consumer goods and services, in the education field it is almost exclusively used by for-profit schools.
While that rule was expected to go into effect in July 2017, DeVos instead called for a “regulatory reset,” claiming the previous rulemaking process “missed an opportunity to get it right,” resulting in a “muddled process that’s unfair to students and schools, and puts taxpayers on the hook for significant costs.”
The AP reports that the new consideration comes just three months after DeVos extended a contract to speed up the processing of student loan forgiveness claims.
However, in extending the contract, the Dept. noted that “policy changes may necessitate certain claims already processed be revisited to assess other attributes.”
That could mean that students who had already been approved for — but not yet received — loan forgiveness could find themselves still on the hook for thousands of dollars.
Where’s The Forgiveness?
The DeVos Dept. of Education has come under increased scrutiny for its treatment of students seeking loan forgiveness claiming they were defrauded by their schools.
While DeVos noted when she “reset” the Borrower Defense rules that applications for relief would continue to be processed under the current version of the rule, that hasn’t happened.
As noted by lawmakers and states attorneys general, refunds stemming from the Borrower Defense process have been delayed.
In July, acting undersecretary of education James Manning told Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin in a letter [PDF] that the Dept. of Education had not approved a loan forgiveness claim in six months.
At the time, the letter revealed that more than 65,100 borrower defense applications — 14,949 of which were submitted since Jan. 20 — were currently pending.
Of these applications, 45,092 were associated with students who attended defunct Corinthian College schools and 7,186 belong to those who attended the also-closed ITT Technical schools.
Many students who submitted claims for borrower defense have actually been approved. Despite this, their loans have yet to been discharged, according to lawmakers.
Back in May, lawmakers claimed that while the 23,000 students were notified in January that their Borrower Defense claims had been approved and they would receive discharges and refunds within 60 days and 120 days.
Despite this, the senators contended that they had received reports that many previously approved students had not obtained the relief they were promised within 120 days.
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The U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals en banc today, in opinions spanning 285 pages, affirmed a Maryland federal district court’s grant of a preliminary injunction against the Proclamation setting out the third version of President Trump’s travel ban. In International Refugee Assistance Project v. Trump, (4th Cir. en banc, Feb. 15, 2018), the court by a vote of 9-4 held that plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits of their Establishment Clause claim. Chief Judge Gregory’s majority opinion said in part:[H]ere the Government’s proffered rationale for the Proclamation lies at odds with the statements of the President himself. Plaintiffs here do not just plausibly allege with particularity that the Proclamation’s purpose is driven by anti-Muslim bias, they offer undisputed evidence of such bias: the words of the President. This evidence includes President Trump’s disparaging comments and tweets regarding Muslims; his repeated proposals to ban Muslims from entering the United States; his subsequent explanation that he would effectuate this “Muslim” ban by targeting “territories” instead of Muslims directly; the issuance of EO-1 and EO-2, addressed only to majority-Muslim nations; and finally the issuance of the Proclamation, which not only closely tracks EO-1 and EO-2, but which President Trump and his advisors described as having the same goal as EO-1 and EO-2…..While the majority ultimately concluded that it would not rely on President Trump’s pre-election statements in reaching its conclusion, it nevertheless indicated that it would have been permissible to do so:Perhaps in implicit recognition of the rawness of the religious animus in the President’s pre-election statements, the Government urges us to disregard them. This is a difficult argument to make given that the President and his advisors have repeatedly relied on these pre-election statements to explain the President’s post-election actions related to the travel ban…. [I]n McCreary, the Supreme Court reminded us that “the world is not made brand new every morning.” …. Because “reasonable observers have reasonable memories,” these statements certainly provide relevant context when examining the purpose of the Proclamation.The majority concluded:In sum, the face of the Proclamation, read in the context of President Trump’s official statements, fails to demonstrate a primarily secular purpose. To the objective observer, the Proclamation continues to exhibit a primarily religious anti-Muslim objective. Our constitutional system creates a strong presumption of legitimacy for presidential action and we often defer to the political branches on issues related to immigration and national security. But the disposition in this case is compelled by the highly unusual facts here. Plaintiffs offer undisputed evidence that the President of the United States has openly and often expressed his desire to ban those of Islamic faith from entering the United States. The Proclamation is thus not only a likely Establishment Clause violation, but also strikes at the basic notion that the government may not act based on “religious animosity.”Six of the judges would have also found a likelihood of success on at least some of plaintiffs’ statutory challenges to the Proclamation. Four concurring opinions and two dissenting opinions were also filed. Pursuant to an earlier U.S. Supreme Court order, the court stayed the injunction pending a petition for certiorari to the Supreme Court. Richmond Times-Dispatch reports on today’s decision.
Earlier this month (Feb. 3), New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an Executive Order (full text) directing all state agencies and departments to amend their procurement procedures to prevent entering into contracts
In Pacchiana v. State of Florida, (FL App., Feb. 14, 2018), a Florida appeals court reversed and remanded for a new trial the murder conviction of defendant. In companion decisions the convictions of Pacchiana’s co-defendants were also reversed: Michael Bilotti v. Florida and in Christin Bilotti v. Florida .In the case, defense counsel raised a Batson challenge to the state’s peremptory strike of an African American member of the jury pool. The state responded that its race-neutral reason for the challenge was that the juror is a Jehovah’s Witness. The prosecution urged that members of that religion often believe that only God judges and they cannot judge. In the court’s primary opinion, Judge Levine wrote:the state did not provide a “legitimate” race-neutral reason….. During voir dire, the potential juror stated that she would follow the law and gave no indication that she would allow her status as a Jehovah’s Witness to affect her decisionmaking at all. In moving to strike her, the state merely relied on the juror’s membership in a religion without any testimony that it would actually affect her service as a juror, speculating that “any” practicing Jehovah’s Witness would refuse to sit in judgment of others.Judge Levine went on to conclude that even if this was a valid religion-based challenge, Batson should be extended to religion-based peremptory challenges, as well as racial ones. He also concluded that:striking a potential juror from jury service based solely on membership in a religion, no matter what the juror says during voir dire, is an impermissible “religious test” in violation of the United States and Florida Constitutions.Chief Judge Gerber concurred only in part, concluding that religion is a race-neutral response to a Batson challenge. However he agreed with Judge Levine’s other conclusions that made this an impermissible religion-based challenge. Judge May dissented, concluding that Batson should not be extended to religion-based challenges. She also concluded that there were sufficient additional reasons given for the challenge to make it race-neutral. However in co-defendant Christin Bilotti’s case, she would remand for resentencing. The Sun Sentinel reports on the decision.
We present StarSpace, a general-purpose neural embedding model that can solve
a wide variety of problems: labeling tasks such as text classification, ranking
tasks such as information retrieval/web search, collaborative filtering-based
or content-based recommendation, embedding of multi-relational graphs, and
learning word, sentence or document level embeddings. In each case the model
works by embedding those entities comprised of discrete features and comparing
them against each other — learning similarities dependent on the task.
Empirical results on a number of tasks show that StarSpace is highly
competitive with existing methods, whilst also being generally applicable to
new cases where those methods are not.
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