Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has tapped former college official Julian Schmoke, Jr., to lead the department’s fraud investigation unit. Problem is: His former employer was the for-profit institution DeVry University, which settled federal claims of misleading students with $100 million in 2016.
DeVos—who is the only cabinet nominee in American history to be confirmed with a tie-breaking vote from the vice president—is unfortunately continuing her string of selecting former executives with for-profit agendas. In June, she appointed Arthur Wayne Johnson, who is the founder and CEO of Reunion Student Loan Finance Corporation.
Fortunately for Schmoke and Johnson, they will feel right at home in President Donald Trump’s administration because the president himself has a habit of scamming young adults looking for opportunities with education. Look no further than the Trump University class action lawsuit in which the president agreed to pay a $25 million settlement to reimburse students who claimed they were defrauded.
Unfortunately for college students, this will likely lead to smaller bank accounts and contribute to the national crisis of student loan debt, which has skyrocketed from $260 billion in 2004 to $1.4 trillion in 2017. Over that same time, the average individual debt escalated from $18,650 to $38,000, according to Debt.org.
DeVos has no training or experience in education, other than supporting charter schools and private-school vouchers in the name of “school choice.” However, that’s nothing but a ploy to divert already dire funding away from public schools. Now, she is sinking her teeth into college student loans and emptying the pockets of the demographic that should be priority No. 1: students.
So rather than helping students exit college with minimal to no debt, DeVos wants to add to the mountain that already exceeds credit card debt. Rather than thinking long term and making sure the next generation is set to take over, DeVos is using them to fix the financial dilemma her generation created. It’s already difficult for millennials to find a job post graduation, but now they can expect to have higher interest rates from former executives whose job was to maximize profit.
There are already deceivers looking to squeeze every penny out of students who don’t have much experience when it comes to personal financing.
After seeing the White House administration in action for eight months, it seems like its agenda is to eradicate every protection previous administrations established for American citizens, such as exiting the nation out of the Paris Climate Agreement and a possible rollback of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Student protections are next on the chopping block, and that can have extreme consequences.
Earlier this year, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, along with attorneys general from Illinois and Washington, sued Navient Corp., a for-profit student loan company, for “systematically and illegally failing borrowers at every stage of repayment,” as reported Jan. 30 by The Chronicle.
One of its victims was an art student who now faces an $800 monthly payment thanks to high interest rates and deceiving tactics. Expect more of these stories should nothing be done to turn this Titanic in another direction.
In the proper words of Sen. Dick Durbin, D-IL, in an Aug. 30 tweet which was in response to Schmoke’s appointment, “This is like the fox guarding the hen house.”