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Photo: Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons license 2.0

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is a big fan of the for-profit college industry, which she has worked tirelessly to protect and whose former executives she's hired, to "help" students. She's been particularly reluctant to approve student loan relief for students defrauded by for-profit schools that went belly-up, and tried to eliminate an Obama administration program to forgive those loans. That didn't go so well, and federal courts keep ruling that her agency actually has to provide debt relief to the students. Yes, even if she doesn't want taxpayers to be "burdened" by helping victims of fraud.

Yesterday, we got a very special glimpse into just what a completely spiteful asshole DeVos is. In a court filing, the Department of Education submitted a copy of a May 4, 2017, document in which DeVos grudgingly signed off on debt relief for some 16,000 students whose applications had already been approved under Obama's Department of Ed, but which hadn't yet been processed by the time Donald Trump took office. Politico education reporter Michael Stratford found this charming detail: To show her disgust at the fraud victims getting help, DeVos signed off on the loan discharges, but added "with extreme displeasure" under her signature.


Isn't that swell? About half of the $168 million in debt that's been forgiven so far was held by students scammed by Corinthian Colleges, one of the scammiest of the scammers, which went belly-up in 2015 after Obama's Education Department (and Kamala Harris, as then-Attorney General of California) sued the school for fraud. And the 16,000 applications DeVos reluctantly approved are just a tiny fraction of more than 150,000 applications for debt relief filed by students whose for-profit institutions took their money and then went broke without providing any real education -- The New York Times notes that total is "over double the number of applications the department inherited from the previous administration."

But at least those students finally got all their debts paid off, even if DeVos went out of her way to be officially pissy, right? Aw, you are an eternal optimist, Dok Zoom! The Associated Press reported in September of last year that an analysis of those 16,000 applications showed that only about a thousand students got their loans paid in full. The rest got some partial forgiveness of their loans, but were left with substantial debt, and isn't that a surprise?

Partial forgiveness awards have covered on average about 30 percent of a student's outstanding loan, with the median loan of roughly $11,500 reduced to about $7,800, according to the data. The department computes the amount erased by comparing their income to peers in similar programs.

Under the Obama administration, the AP pointed out, "tens of thousands" of fraud victims received full erasure of their debts, although when DeVos took over, there was still a big backlog of applications.

Why, yes, it DOES get worse: Despite the court rulings, DeVos's Education Department has continued to drag its feet. Between June and December of 2018, CNN reported in March, the department didn't approve a single application for loan forgiveness. In April, the New York Times reported that 22,000 previously approved loan forgiveness applications were still being held up as Devos's functionaries dragged out the case in court. Yes, the case that had been decided in October 2018.

And while the department couldn't be arsed to take any action on the tens of thousands of applications waiting to still be reviewed, the Times reported, the nice folks at Education were at least able to get some work accomplished:

[Advocates] say the department has referred borrowers to the Treasury Department to have their tax refunds garnished to offset debts that have piled up while their claim is pending.

Maybe there's a way to break this logjam: The Department of Education could agree to process all the applications, and Betsy DeVos could be allowed to call each recipient of debt relief on the phone and call them a "worthless taker." Ideally around September through November of 2020. Julián Castro and Elizabeth Warren have some ideas on the matter.

[Michael Stratford on Twitter / CNN / AP / NYT / Photo: DeVos at CPAC, 2017, by Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons license 2.0]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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