When the Department of Education makes new regulations about for-profit colleges, it’s usually for-profit colleges who dominate the proceedings. By uniting together, Debt Collective members are changing that. This month, there is another opportunity for all of us to make our voices heard.
The Department of Education is currently creating a new set of rules for applying for discharge of federal student loans under the Defense to Repayment law. They are doing this because they have been overwhelmed by the applications we have sent in to them.
The process to create these rules is long. Last winter, there was a comment period to which over 250 of you sent in comments emphasizing the urgency of creating strong rules. Then there were three months of “negotiations”, at which Debt Collective member and debt striker Ann Bowers represented student interests and a group of 12 Debt Collective members from Corinthian, ITT, Kaplan, and Art Institute gave show-stopping testimony about their experiences and the weaknesses of the first draft of the rules.
Now the Department has released a “Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” (NPRM), which is really a draft of the final rule. By law, it must accept comments from the public until August 1. And then it must address all of these comments (which doesn’t mean accepting all of them!) in its final rule, which should be released in November (and go into effect next July).
You can be sure industry lobbyists will be taking advantage of this comment period. Usually only their voices are heard and heeded; but we’re joining together with Attorneys General, legal aid attorneys, consumer law experts, student advocates and others to drown them out.