Opinion: Trump’s Ed. Secretary DeVos Made It Harder To Repay Student Loans

Betsy DeVos eliminated President Obama's policies to make student loan repayment easier and to prevent student loan recipients from defaulting.

Opinion: Trump’s Ed. Secretary DeVos Made It Harder To Repay Student Loans

It is likely true that one would be hard-pressed to cite even one instance of a Republican politician or conservative policy that exists to help the people. What the majority of Americans can cite, though, are myriad instances of Republican policies that not only do not help the people, they exist to take something away. It doesn’t matter if it is affordable healthcare, freedom of speech, voting and civil rights, a secular education or autonomy over one’s body, Republicans and their heartless policies exist and work tirelessly to take every last thing away from the people.

It was completely ignored by the media, both mainstream and independent, but less than two weeks ago the unqualified enemy of education, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, unilaterally eliminated a program that made it easier for students to avoid defaulting on their student loans. In fact, as GQ noted, DeVos single-handedly made it much more difficult for college graduates to repay their student loans. Apparently, DeVos liked the idea of returning to the pre-Obama era where someone defaults on their student loan every 29 seconds.

The issue of massive defaults on student loans, about 8.7 million people according to Bloomberg, prompted President Obama to action to “put in place policy memos that directed the Federal Student Aid Office to shift its focus.” The Obama policy was directives to the Education Department to “spend less time on debt collection, offer borrowers aid in managing their crushing debt with repayment plans and other techniques;” like every bank, financial institution, mortgage lender and credit card company does as a matter of course,

Those policy memos likely mirrored the repayment or delinquent payment plans that have long existed at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The government is not a for-profit financial institution or a bank that exists to make money off of debt or create millions of bankruptcies. The government, and by extension, the Education Department’s financial aid program, exists to serve the people and not to be debt collectors or create a monumental backlog in bankruptcy court or create a customer base for predatory banks and lending institutions. As with most policies attributed to President Obama, the federal government exists to help the people, including the people to whom it provided student loans.

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That concept of helping Americans is repulsive to all Republicans, and DeVos is no exception in taking unilateral action to eliminate all of President Obama policies to make repaying student loans a bit less soul-crushing. The GQ article’s author wrote that as is typical of this administration, DeVos has no replacement plan in place “ready to go.”  Of course, she doesn’t because she has no intent to help the Americans struggling to repay their often suffocating student loan debt.

In a memo addressed to the Chief Operating Officer overseeing the Federal Student Aid division of the Department of Education, James W. Runcie, DeVos wrote in part:

“… Our mission in the student loan servicing procurement process is to provide high-quality customer service to federal loan borrowers in a cost-efficient and effective manner.  Unfortunately, this process has been subjected to a myriad of moving deadlines, changing requirements and a lack of consistent objectives.”

What DeVos is describing are President Obama’s policies to make student loan repayment easier and to prevent student loan recipients from defaulting, declaring bankruptcy and ruining their credit. DeVos continued by citing the three specific “memos” from President Obama that she eliminated:

I am withdrawing (1) the June 30, 2016 memorandum to you from former Secretary John King, (2) the July 20, 2016 memorandum to you from former Under Secretary Ted Mitchell, and (3) the October 17, 2016 addendum to the July 20, 2016 memorandum to you from former Under Secretary Mitchell, to negate any impediment, ambiguity or inconsistency in the approach needed to accomplish this critical mission.”

The typically Republican “critical mission” is taking an unnecessary step that makes it much more difficult for borrowers to repay their student loans. No matter how one assesses this hateful action, there is no other reason to make repaying a student loan harder, and often impossible, than to force borrowers to default, ruin their credit, bankrupt them, or force them to seek loans to repay a student loan from a predatory financial institution.

Where DeVos is just outright lying is in claiming the President Obama’s plan was ambiguous or “inconsistent objectives.”  The objectives are not only consistent, they are blatantly clear. According to the two presidential memos, the extremely clear objectives are “simplifying the repayment process, better protecting borrowers, and facilitating our oversight of servicing contractors.” The more simply put explanation is that President Obama’s policy was created specifically to “make repaying [student] loans easier.

It is what the government is supposed to do as servants of the people and something even the vicious financial industry does.

For dog’s sake even loan and mortgage companies, banks, and predatory credit card companies have programs in place to help borrowers repay their debt, avoid default and stay out of bankruptcy court.

This barbaric act by DeVos, and it is worse than barbaric, serves no useful purpose whatsoever; not to the government or the student loan borrowers. It may force super-conscientious people to seek out private, high-interest rate loans to pay off their government-subsidized debt, but even that seems unlikely. When a borrower defaults on their student loan, no-one wins; not the government that loses its investment or the borrower who loses what may have been a good credit score or worse has to declare bankruptcy.

DeVos’ action is sheer evil for evil’s sake and nothing whatsoever to do with “cost efficiency” or servicing the students. But she is a typical Republican on her best day, and a dirty, nasty Trump Republican now that she has a Cabinet position that explains why she is inherently and unabashedly evil.

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