Billions in student loan debt could be discharged over the course of the decade, in light of numerous problems related to for-profit colleges. Student loan debt has contributed to financial burdens for many young Americans, but in some cases, this was made worse by institutions looking to make the most on loan returns.
Defrauded students are one of the groups targeted for loan forgiveness. Individuals who were not told about their loans regarding repayment details could be considered defrauded. This could include things about falsified interest rates, incorrect estimations on repayment totals, and loans specifically handed out in a predatory manner. Potentially, students who meet this criterion would be forgiven $42 billion in total over several years.
With additional emphasis on forgiveness for defrauded students, new rulesets would be introduced. The idea is to create total transparency when a student borrows for a profit-centric college. Colleges falling under for-profit categories would have to inform students about repayment rates. Colleges who were also under suspicion for defrauding alumni would be required to set aside money for forgiveness.
Those in the for-profit industry are primarily opposed to such forgiveness, as well as the additional regulations. Taxpayers, too, have concerns about the total amount to be forgiven, as taxes would be the main method to forgive these loans.
The regulations are expected to be released at the beginning of November, according to spokeswoman Kelly Leon. If approved, $42 billion can be expected to be forgiven over a decade, assuming the definition for defrauded students remains accurate.
Some criticisms towards the regulations relate to vagueness. It’s a concern for those footing the bill that under the new ruleset, any college or university could technically be defrauding its student base. For instance, one regulation asserts that a proper, fulfilling education is required. But, how one defines “fulfilling” education is entirely subjective, and the concern is that complaints filed for fraud would be incorrect. If that were the case, institutions would be responsible for paying excess in forgiveness for improper reasons.
While the primary goal is to help inform graduates about predatory and exploitative loan practices, the language could be too murky. The NASFAA (National Association of Student Financial Aid Assistance) even voiced concern, especially considering the strict enforcement related to the forgiveness policies. More clarity, they feel, is desired regarding deliberately deceiving students and misunderstanding of repayment rules.
Advocacy groups for the fair treatment of student loan repayment believe the regulations should be strengthened. It is believed this will help future students by protecting them from fraud, and that current measures are only the beginning. In some cases, even teacher’s associations offered that student loan charges should be automatically forgiven if they were found victim to fraudulent practices.
The issue of borrower defense is swiftly becoming a larger talking point by both advocates and opposition. Many believe the economic downfall is too severe and only those paying through taxes will feel affected, while others assert this is a forward step in preventing future fraud activity.