Editorial: What the Betsy DeVos lawsuit means for UConn students

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos speaks during a student town hall at National Constitution Center. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Betsy DeVos recently lost a lawsuit against 19 states along with Washington D.C. in which she and her department were found guilty of wrongfully delaying an Obama-era rule that protected students who took out loans to pay for their education. These protections came about due to a lack of disclosure regarding fees that lenders used to deceive borrowers at the time of the Obama Administration. The regulations aimed to hinder these deceptions, such as hidden fees, and stop lenders from depriving borrowers of repayment rights. It is also meant to help students who have been “defrauded by a college or university,” which has been the case with many for-profit universities (not unlike the infamous Trump University). The regulations were supposed to be put into effect this this month, however DeVos and the Department of Education were trying to prevent this from happening.

While DeVos has already made some questionable decisions in her tenure as Secretary of Education, this act is not only unfair and unlawful, but it fundamentally hurts our nation’s college students in favor of the government. That’s right, you should be angry about this.

DeVos’ intention to hinder the implementation of these regulations sends an unsupportive message to student borrowers about the Department of Education. It expresses to students that the federal government is against them, and is unwilling to protect them from predatory practices of lenders. The states that filed this lawsuit against DeVos are looking to protecting the rights of student borrowers by fighting for the implementation of regulations that will support students who have been unfairly taken advantage of by their colleges and universities.

Looking over DeVos’ proposed changes to the rules, it seems there are some parts that could benefit students while others certainly seem poised to hurt them. For example, by expanding the timeframe in which students are allowed to file a claim from 120 days to 180 days, DeVos could be benefitting some students that might have been too late to file a claim in the past. However, by allowing schools a way to counter claims filed by students and requiring additional evidence from students in order to support that claim may hinder a student’s ability to win their case, thus discouraging them to file in the first place.

As UConn students it is important to be aware of the measures taken by the government that affect our daily lives. While the Borrower Defense Rules may not be applicable to all students at our university, it is still necessary to remember that this is only one of the ways that our nation’s government is treating students unfairly. If we do not start to take a stand against Betsy DeVos and the Department of Education, they may not be found unlawful next time.