A group of former for-profit college students filed a potential class action against the Department of Education and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Tuesday, saying they and nearly 160,000 others are waiting on the department to rule on whether they should have federal loans forgiven due to “their school’s misconduct.”
The schools, some of which have since closed, deceived the students about the training they’d receive and their employment prospects, according to the complaint filed in the case.
Under the Obama administration, the Education Department approved tens of thousands of loan cancelation applications under a program called “borrower defense,” but under DeVos, appointed by President Trump, the Department slowed the program and hasn’t ruled on a single application since June 2018, according to the complaint.
The Department of Education didn’t respond to an inquiry from Fast Company.
“The Department’s abdication of its responsibility is not a neutral choice,” according to the complaint. “Its decision to keep over 160,000 students in limbo—some for over four years—has damaged students’ credit and limited their access to federal student aid. It has caused significant emotional distress, associated physical harm, and a loss of wealth and opportunity that students will never recover.”
DeVos has said the borrower defense program is “bad policy,” CNN reports, and has called for it to be replaced by a partial loan forgiveness program that could save taxpayers money.
The students are represented in the case, filed in California federal court, by lawyers from the Project on Predatory Student Lending, part of the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School.