Of Course the White House Doesn’t Care if Colleges Defraud Students

One of the surest warning signs that Americans had that soon-to-be President Donald Trump’s character and business interests were questionable was when Trump University was forced to pay $25 million back to its “students” for scamming them.

Given that despicable situation, should anyone trust the current administration to change the rules when it comes to for-profit colleges that rake in money without providing a valuable degree to debt-strapped students in return?

The answer to that question seems like an obvious “No!” yet the White House is asking us to trust them on this issue anyway. The Department of Education has announced plans to “pause” and rewrite rules created during Barack Obama’s tenure designed to hold for-profit colleges from tricking their students.

Education Secretary and school choice proponent Betsy DeVos apparently wants to make sure students have the choice to throw away their money at schools that provide worthless degrees. She is putting an immediate stop to the Gainful Employment rule and the Borrower Defense rule.

“Last year’s rule-making effort missed an opportunity to get it right,” said DeVos. “The result is a muddled process that’s unfair to students and schools.”

It’s hard to understand, though, how rules designed to protect defrauded students are unfair to students. More likely, DeVos and the Trump team are mostly concerned with adjusting the rules to be more favorable to the corrupt schools.

Before we go any further, let’s briefly explain what the affected rules were:

The Gainful Employment Rule

This rule holds career-focused colleges responsible for setting up their students for jobs. If a school or vocational program sticks students with loans over 8 percent of their total salary (or 20 percent of their discretionary spending,) then the schools are not considered to be pathways for “gainful employment” and are therefore ineligible to receive federal financial aid money.

Additionally, the rule obliges schools to post key statistics, including graduation rate, the average salary of graduates and the average debt students incur.

The Borrower Defense Rule

This rule is helps students who have been defrauded by for-profit colleges to not enter financial ruin. When a school closes or is caught lying to students about benefits it can’t actually deliver, students can more easily file to have their existing loan debt eliminated, rather than individually having to sue the school.

The Gainful Employment rule has already shown its value. At the start of 2017, over 800 educational programs, almost all of which are for-profit schools, did not meet the criteria to receive federal money. Since 90 percent of the hundreds of thousands of students enrolled in these failing programs rely on student loans to pay for these programs, it’s basically the government’s way of shutting down funding to these scams.

That hardly seems unreasonable either. If you’re promising students to prepare them for a career with a living wage, you better give them the training necessary to get a job that pays their rent and the loans due.

As for the Borrower Defense rule, that one never got a chance to shine. Slated to go into effect on July 1, it seems as though DeVos and crew wanted to squash it before it had a chance to start. Now already broke students will have to go through the costly and complicated process of petitioning to have their loans forgiven when a school has been caught out as a scam.

DeVos’s best argument for amending these rules is her point that by forgiving loans, it leaves “taxpayers on the hook” for some of that money. While it’s true taxpayers would cover some of the unpaid loans, it’s not as if the country is better off when students who went to school to put themselves on track for a career to support themselves discover they not only are unqualified for the job, but also have to pay off thousands of dollars in student loans anyway. Besides, the rules were devised to make sure fraudulent for-profit colleges bear the brunt of the financial responsibility.

Education-watchers shouldn’t be surprised that Trump and DeVos are cozying up to the for-profit education sector. ProPublica dug up that DeVos had quietly added a for-profit college lobbyist to her transition team, and he resigned soon after.

Once again, it seems like the Trump White House is prioritizing allowing rich institutions to become richer with fewer consequences for breaking the rules over the education and futures of American students. Useless programs that sideline Americans with decades of debt might seem like “business as usual” to someone like Trump, but it’s outrageous that our own government officials are condoning it.

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Marie W
Marie Wabout a year ago

Thanks for sharing.

Jennifer H
Jennifer H1 years ago

It was obvious with rump.

David C
David C1 years ago


ERIKA S1 years ago


heather g
heather g1 years ago

Question everything

Julie B
Julie B1 years ago

People are awakening to 'people in powe'r. This says it all if we think about it. Power over people. Governmenst that Govern our mentality. We vote ~ we should be listened to and act upon our behalf and our needs. Time to join together take a stand and say no~more! .

Belinda Lang
Belinda Lang1 years ago

The Department of Education is supposed to help the students, not help fraudulant for-profit schools.

Roberto M
Roberto MARINI1 years ago

students must be supported

ERIKA S1 years ago


Deborah S
Deborab S1 years ago

Thank you