The U.S. Education Department under President Donald Trump and Secretary Betsy DeVos has stopped cancelling the student-loan debt of people defrauded by failed for-profit schools and those borrowers face mounting interest and other burdens, its inspector general said on Monday.
DeVos is seeking to redo the process for cancelling the debts of people who attended Corinthian Colleges, which collapsed in 2015 amid government investigations into its post-graduation rates, and other failed schools.
In the final days of his administration, President Barack Obama approved rules speeding up the debt cancellations. DeVos has delayed implementing those rules, saying they would create significant costs for taxpayers.
According to a report by the inspector general, DeVos also brought the existing cancellation process to a crawl.
Since Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20, the department has received 25,991 claims for discharging loans. It has denied two requests and approved none, the inspector general, an independent auditor within the agency, found.
That is in contrast to Obama’s final months in office. From July 1, 2016, through inauguration, the department received 46,274 claims and approved 27,986. It denied none.
Caught in limbo, borrowers are seeing interest and fees accrue and their credit damaged, the inspector general’s report showed. Borrowers could ultimately owe more on a denied discharge than if they had not asked for cancellation and simply continued making payments, the inspector said.
Some state attorneys general have pushed the department to cancel the loans, saying students cannot afford to repay the often-large amounts because the schools did not give them adequate training or a diploma.
The inspector general also found the department did not have a sufficient information system and had to manually retrieve claims data.
“Hundreds of thousands of students were defrauded and cheated by predatory colleges that broke the law, but today’s report confirms Secretary DeVos tried to shirk her responsibility to these students and shut down the borrower-defense program, leaving them with nowhere to turn,” said Senator Patty Murray, the senior Democrat on the Education Committee.
In a memo to the inspector general, A. Wayne Johnson, chief operating officer of the federal student aid program, said the department has “authorized an interest credit” for long-outstanding claims, will resume reviewing some claims and will soon approve claims for 11,000 Corinthian students.
(Reporting by Lisa Lambert; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)
WATCH: New Zealand prime minister unfazed as quake hits during an interview
A moderate 5.6-magnitude earthquake rattled New Zealand's North Island early Monday but failed to crack Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's trademark composure as she conducted a live television interview.
The quake struck just off the coast before 8:00 am local time (2000 Sunday GMT) at a depth of about 52 kilometres (32 miles) near Levin, about 90 kilometres north of Wellington, the US Geological Survey said.
St John Ambulance and New Zealand Police both said there were no initial reports of injuries or damage. There was no tsunami warning.
But there was sustained shaking in Wellington, where Ardern was being interviewed on breakfast television from parliament's Beehive building, which is designed to absorb seismic forces by swaying slightly on its foundations.
US farmers are starting to worry as crop prices dip during COVID-19 crisis: ‘It’s kind of glum’
Dave Burrier steered his tractor through a field, following a GPS map as he tried to plant as much corn as possible amid the yellow and green rye covering the ground.
Striving to get a massive yield out of his crops in rural Maryland is how Burrier hopes to make it through yet another uncertain year, beset by market disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and renewed trade tensions between the United States and China.
"We've had so much price erosion that we're basically at below the cost of production. We've got to figure out how to manage and turn a profit," Burrier told AFP.
‘It’s the first time I’ve played golf in almost 3 months’: Trump makes excuses for golfing during coronavirus pandemic
President Donald Trump was blasted on Sunday for playing golf during the coronavirus pandemic, a dramatic economic recession and after proclaiming churches "essential."
Instead of joining his voters sitting in the pews, Trump went for the links, which drew criticisms for the hypocrisy.
"Sleepy Joe’s representatives have just put out an ad saying that I went to play golf (exercise) today. They think I should stay in the White House at all times. What they didn’t say is that it’s the first time I’ve played golf in almost 3 months, that Biden was constantly vacationing, relaxing & making shady deals with other countries, & that Barack was always playing golf, doing much of his traveling in a fume spewing 747 to play golf in Hawaii - Once even teeing off immediately after announcing the gruesome death of a great young man by ISIS!" tweeted Trump.