For Immediate Release
Carrie Wofford | President (202) 422-6338
Tanya Ang | Vice President (949) 244-7690
March 11, 2020
Veterans Education Success Praises Bipartisan Passage of H.J. Res. 76 in the Senate to Stand with Veterans on Borrower Defense
Washington, DC – In a bipartisan vote of 53-42 the United States Senate passed H.J. Res 76 this afternoon, signifying that supporting defrauded servicemembers, veterans, and their families in higher education stands above partisan politics.
The Congressional Review Act resolution overturns the recent borrower defense rule which makes it virtually impossible for borrowers who have been defrauded by their colleges to obtain relief.
Veterans have long been targeted by deceptive practices from unscrupulous colleges and subject to deceptive marketing and recruiting practices because of the 90/10 loophole. A borrower defense rule that grants borrowers a fair process in having their federal student loans discharged if they were misled, deceived, or defrauded has been an important priority for veterans’ groups including Veterans Education Success, including in a letter from 27 veterans groups to the Education Department and a letter from 37 veterans groups to Congress.
“We want to thank the U.S. Senate for sending an unequivocal, bipartisan message that military-connected students who have been defrauded out of their hard-earned GI Bill and burdened with unnecessary student loans should have a fair and equitable process for relief,” said Tanya Ang, Vice President at Veterans Education Success. “We urge President Trump to stand with veterans and direct the Department of Education to adopt new rules that are fair, transparent, and recognize the important contributions of veterans and military-connected students in higher education.”
Two veterans are available for media interviews:
- Jarrod Thoma, an Army veteran who has had a borrower defense application pending for years (one of a backlog of over 200,000 pending applications) thanked the Senate for passing the resolution: “I want to thank the Senate for passing this resolution to overturn the harmful new borrower defense rule. Students in my position need some avenue to recover from the fraudulent activities of predatory for-profit institutions. I hope President Trump will stand with Veterans and Congress.”
- Army veteran Tasha Berkhalter, who flew to Washington last month to speak at a Senate press conference, had this to say about today’s vote on H.J. Res. 76: “After hearing that the vote was taking place yesterday afternoon, all I could truly do was Pray! This is such a life changing thing for not just myself and my family…but for so many other Veterans and theirs. We have struggled to make sense of life for so long after attending these types of schools! When your serving you feel important and needed and after being discharged back into civilian life, you hit the floor running to go to school to continue to live and feel the same way. To know your taken advantage of by these for-profit schools is devastating. Then when you live with tons of debt and no more GI Bill funding to go back to school, it’s literally like the insult to the injury! I’m praying that the final vote is a YES and that President Trump will choose to do what’s right and “Make America Great Again” by starting with us who have blood, sweat and tears in the souls of this great land!”
To interview Jarrod and/or Tasha please contact Barrett Y. Bogue, Senior Communication Advisor, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Senate today rebuked a rule that had removed many of the protections that were previously in place. It made the standard so difficult to prove that only three percent of defrauded borrowers would have qualified for relief under the Department of Education’s own estimate.
As an organization that has assisted over 5,000 military-connected students, Veterans Education Success has witnessed the need for a sensible process for defrauded borrowers based on feedback from students like Jarrod and Kendrick.
- Jarrod Thoma had this to say about his experience: “I enrolled in DeVry University. But it didn’t take long for me to realize that this for-profit college was failing to deliver on many of the promises recruiters had made to me . . . When I tried to transfer, I was told by both a public university and a community college that they would accept only my general education credits – even though DeVry had stated that their credits would transfer. As I was starting to accumulate debt, including $52,000 in additional student loans, I made the decision to complete my engineering degree at DeVry. However, upon entering the job market, I quickly found that a degree from a for-profit college was not worth the paper it was printed on and it actually hurt my job prospects.”
- Army veteran Kendrick Harrison had this to say about his experience when he spoke at a press conference following the House of Representatives passing H.J. Res. 76 in January with bipartisan support: “I honored my commitment to the United States Army. I protected and defended this great nation, only to come back and be robbed by predatory industries that are supposed to uplift the same community.”
Jarrod and Kendrick are just two examples of many who underline the need for a borrower defense rule that adequately protects veterans and all borrowers. Veterans Education Success has worked for many years on ensuring a fair process is available for defrauded borrowers: In 2016 and 2018 our Research Director was a negotiator on the borrower defense rulemaking negotiations; when the new rule was proposed in 2018, we documented the negative impacts it would have on student veterans; we wrote and testified to the Education Department and Congress; and we published quotes of Veterans with Pending Borrower Defense Applications at the Education Department.
We are hopeful that President Trump will stand with veterans and Congress and support this necessary resolution. We want to thank Senator Durbin for his leadership on this issue and all of the Senators who stood with defrauded veterans today. We look forward to the onerous new borrower defense rule being overturned for good.
About Veterans Education Success
Veterans Education Success is a veteran advocacy organization whose mission is to advance higher education success for veterans, service members, and military families, and to protect the integrity and promise of the GI Bill and other federal education programs. The organization offers free legal services, advice, and college and career counseling to servicemembers, veterans, their survivors, and families using federal education benefits – and helps them participate in their democracy by engaging with policymakers. Veterans Education Success also provides policy expertise to federal and state policymakers, and conducts non-partisan research on issues of concern to student veterans, including student outcomes and debt levels. Additional information is available at www.vetsedsuccess.org.