Walker, DeVos roll back protections from predatory colleges
Wisconsin consumers are more vulnerable than ever to getting ripped off by predatory forprofit colleges in the aftermath of recent actions by Gov. Scott Walker and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
In 2015, Walker proposed eliminating the Educational Approval Board, repealing several regulatory provisions and dispersing the agency's remaining duties among other agencies.
His initial effort to eliminate the EAB, created in 1944 to oversee institutions like for-profit colleges and protect consumers, was unsuccessful.
Two years later, as part of his 2017 budget, Walker succeeded in eliminating the EAB.
Functions of the formerly independent agency were transferred to the state Department of Safety and Professional Services and experienced staff, including the executive director position, were either eliminated or not retained. They were replaced by staff lacking experience with the industry.
Now we have DeVos gutting rules intended to help students saddled with debt by for-profit colleges.
The education secretary in July proposed repealing the “Borrowers Defense” rule intended to help students defrauded by for-profit colleges.
Under DeVos' proposal, bad colleges would see their liability for ripping off students reduced and the number of students eligible for loan relief would be slashed.
Watchdog scrutiny of the for-profit college industry has increased recently, and what has been uncovered is unsavory. The industry targets veterans, minorities and low-income students, encouraging them to take on massive debts and often leaving those who graduate with worthless degrees.
In Wisconsin, there have been several high profile closures of for-profit college chains, including ITT Tech and Globe University. Such closures have left hundreds of students in limbo, without a way to continue their education or get credit at other institutions for classes they paid for and completed.
One Wisconsin Now is a nonprofit, non-partisan progressive advocacy group
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