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Attorney General Josh Stein Sues to Protect Students from Predatory Schools

For Immediate Release:
Thursday, June 25, 2020

Laura Brewer (919) 716-6484

(RALEIGH) Attorney General Josh Stein filed a lawsuit to stop U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos from eliminating critical protections for students considering enrolling in for-profit colleges and vocational schools.

“The Department of Education’s repeal of important protections for students puts them at risk of predatory, for-profit schools,” said Attorney General Stein. “Schools should not be able to take advantage of students investing in their futures. I’m suing Secretary Betsy DeVos to make sure our students get the value of the education they are paying for.”

For years, many for-profit colleges engaged in fraudulent and abusive practices, including deceptive marketing, to convince students to enroll in useless academic and training programs. Those practices left students across the country with piles of debt and insufficient jobs to pay off that debt.

In 2014, the Department of Education issued the Gainful Employment Rule to hold for-profit institutions accountable for the future success of their students. The rule required the worst offending programs to warn students about the dangers of enrolling and ultimately would have made those same programs ineligible to enroll students using federal financial aid. In a new rule set to take effect next week, the Department of Education has repealed the Gainful Employment Rule’s protections with the Repeal Rule, which will let for-profit colleges take advantage of students looking to find educational programs to help advance their careers.

The Repeal Rule will harm students and taxpayers in North Carolina. More students will enroll in programs run by for-profit colleges that may not result in successful employment but will leave students under the burden of extraordinary financial debt. And now that the U.S. Department of Education has decided to stop regulating for-profit colleges, states will also have to increase their efforts to hold predatory institutions accountable for harming students. The new rule is also troubling because as COVID-19 leaves more than one million North Carolinians unemployed, many may consider going back to school.

Attorney General Stein is joined in this lawsuit by the Attorneys General of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Colorado, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

A copy of the complaint is available here.


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