Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced in Santa Ana Thursday that his agency has joined seven other attorneys generals in filing a friend-of-the-court brief in federal appeals court supporting a lawsuit filed by former Corinthian Colleges students seeking relief from student loans.
The amicus brief was filed Wednesday in support of a class action lawsuit filed by former Corinthian students alleging they were ripped off by the for-profit educator. The other states joining the amicus brief are Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina and Washington.
The students who filed the class action won an order from a federal judge barring the Department of Education from only offering partial relief. The Department of Education appealed the ruling.
It was another chapter in Becerra’s battle with the Betsy Devos-led Department of Education, which has reversed course from the Obama administration’s support for loan relief for Corinthian students.
“This is becoming a habit, unfortunately,” Becerra said at the onset of his news conference Thursday in Santa Ana Thursday.
Becerra joined a coalition of 19 state attorneys general in suing the Department of Education in July of last year for “stonewalling” implementation of a policy allowing loan relief for Corinthian students.
In March of this year he joined 20 other state attorneys general in protesting Department of Education proposals to change the loan relief programs.
In August, he again joined 21 attorneys general in a letter again protesting other proposed changes to the “borrower defense” regulations.
In March of 2016 the Attorney General’s Office won a $1.1 billion judgment against Corinthian, which declared bankruptcy.
“Roughly” 53 percent of California’s college graduates have taken out loans to pay for their higher education, Becerra said.
“I should know that, I was one of them,” Becerra said.
“I played by the rules, my college played by the rules,” Becerra said. “And our federal government, well, it had my back… I paid my loans. And that’s how it should be.”
Corinthian, however, employed “predatory” tactics to recruit students and “did not play by the rules,” Becerra said.
The for-profit college chain, state prosecutors said, focused on low-income students with bogus promises of high rates of employment for trade school diplomas. The students, Becerra said, ended up with steep loans and “a worthless piece of paper.”
The Trump administration has a different perspective on the issue than the previous administration, Becerra said.
“What they’re simply saying is they don’t believe these students,” Becerra said of Department of Education officials. “They don’t think it’s as bad (as the students say).”
Department of Education officials have also argued that the students have themselves to blame as well, Becerra said.
Department of Education officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The students are fighting for full relief, but the Department of Education is offering “pennies on the dollar,” Becerra said.
Becerra said it was similar to the housing industry collapse, in which lenders offered mortgages to unqualified buyers who got stuck with terms they could not afford.
“It’s very similar,” Becerra said. “Families were preyed upon and got sold a bill of goods… They were left with debt they couldn’t repay.”
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