Federal court ponders next steps in DeVos for-profit suit

FILE - In this June 5, 2018, file photo, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos testifies during hearing on the FY19 budget on Capitol Hill in Washington. A federal court has ruled that a decision by DeVos to delay an Obama-era rule meant to protect students swindled by for-profit colleges was “arbitrary and capricious,” dealing a significant blow to the Trump administration’s attempt to ease regulations for the industry. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

A federal court has ruled it was "arbitrary and capricious" for Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to delay an Obama-era rule meant to protect students swindled by for-profit colleges

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration on Friday asked the court for another chance to delay an Obama-era policy meant to boost protections for students defrauded by for-profit schools.

The request comes two days after the court ruled that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' move to freeze the regulation known as borrower defense was "arbitrary and capricious." That decision dealt a severe blow to her efforts to ease regulations on the for-profit college industry.

Attorney Adam Pulver with Public Citizen, an advocacy group, said defrauded students are facing "continuing everyday harm" and asked the court that the delayed regulation be enforced immediately.

But lawyers for the Department of Education asked Judge Randolph Moss to give the agency a chance to correct the mistakes the court identified in how the delay was put in place. It also asked that in case the court does rule that the Obama regulation must take effect, that it grant the department 60 days to prepare.

Judge Moss did not say when he would issue a ruling.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, who took part in the lawsuit against DeVos along with a group of Democratic attorneys general from a number of states, said Wednesday's ruling was "a victory for every family defrauded by a predatory for-profit school."

The Obama administration went hard after the for-profit sector, tightening regulations and spending over $550 million to forgive the loans of defrauded students. DeVos said that system was unfair to taxpayers and set out to rewrite those rules.

Critics charged that DeVos was looking out for industry interests. They point to the fact that she has hired for-profit insiders to top positions at her agency.

But Rick Hess, director of education policy at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, said DeVos is "trying to strike a healthier balance between protecting students and ensuring that taxpayers don't get ripped off."

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