Judge unblocks Obama rule on student debt relief after delays by DeVos

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United States Department of Education Headquarters

(CNN) — An Obama-era rule designed to help students cheated by for-profit colleges get relief on their education debt finally took effect Tuesday after efforts by the Trump administration to block it.

A federal judge ordered immediate implementation of the rule, delayed last year by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, while a challenge from the for-profit college industry proceeds.

The Department of Education said Friday that it will not seek a new delay.

Attorneys general from 18 states and the District of Columbia successfully sued DeVos last year over her decision to block the rule, known as Borrower Defense to Repayment, from taking effect.

The judge sided with the states last month, but implementation of the debt-relief rule was delayed pending Tuesday’s decision in the separate lawsuit brought by an industry group.

DeVos has been widely criticized by Democrats and consumer advocacy groups for siding with for-profit colleges over students.

She’s hired department officials with ties to the for-profit college industry and plans to repeal another rule important to the Obama administration’s crackdown on for-profit colleges like Corinthian and ITT Tech, which were accused of defrauding students and eventually shut down.

Investors seemed optimistic about the future of for-profit colleges after Trump won the election in 2016, sending their stocks up. Trump himself had just agreed to settle three lawsuits filed against his real estate school, Trump University. Those lawsuits claimed the program also featured false advertisements and empty promises.

The Borrower Defense rule, which outlines a way for student borrowers to apply for loan forgiveness if they were defrauded or misled by their college.

DeVos froze the regulation weeks before it was set to go into effect, and about a month after a group of private colleges filed a legal complaint asking the department to do so.

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