With No Help From Thom Tillis, Senate Votes to Help Defrauded Student Borrowers Drowning In Debt

After Taking Over $92,000 From Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ Family, Tillis Refused to Overturn Costly DeVos Rule That Guts Borrower Defense Protections

Washington D.C. – In a rare display of bipartisan cooperation, today the US Senate voted to disapprove of billionaire Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ new “Borrower Defense” rule that would have left tens of thousands of defrauded student borrowers struggling to pay illegitimate debts. Without the support of Senator Thom Tillis, Senate Joint Resolution 56 passed by 53-42 vote and now moves to the President’s desk. The bill was backed by leading veterans’ groups including the American Legion, as well as ten Republican Senators and six GOP Members of Congress. Consumer watchdog group Allied Progress slammed Senator Tillis’ opposition as a quid pro quo for the over $33,000 in campaign cash he’s raked in from the for-profit college industry and $92,600 from Betsy DeVos and her family.

“Fortunately, Senator Tillis was in the minority in Congress who don’t want to see defrauded student borrowers made whole again. Tillis chose instead to rubberstamp the Trump administration’s scheme to protect the profits of crooked diploma mills,” said Derek Martin, director of Allied Progress. “He abandoned North Carolina students who were robbed of the quality education they continue to pay for. And he apparently did it to the keep the money flowing from billionaire Betsy DeVos and the for-profit college industry. The Senator didn’t want to bite the hand that feeds him, so he threw ripped off student borrowers and taxpayers to the wolves. You know the DeVos rule was a bad deal when even the McConnell-led Senate rejected it.”

Added Martin: “No one is buying the claims from DeVos’ apologists like Senator Tillis that these unreasonable requirements for student debt relief are about saving taxpayer money. If that were true, the Secretary wouldn’t have systematically let the for-profit college industry off the hook for bad behavior, which only invites more incidents of fraud against student borrowers and American taxpayers.”

AT ISSUE is the costly and corrupt rule Secretary DeVos advanced in August 2019 that made it next to impossible – apparently by design – for student borrowers who were scammed by shady colleges to cancel their loans and receive full restitution (also known as a Borrower Defense Claim). There are now over 217,000 backlogged Borrower Defense claims – including over 6,000 in North Carolina alone. Under powers outlined in the Congressional Review Act, the resolution before the President would restore the 2016 “Borrower Defense to Repayment” rule, a protection that provides a path to debt forgiveness for students ripped off by predatory higher-ed institutions, oftentimes for-profit colleges.

DeVos’ fatally-flawed borrower defense rule was the natural result of the Secretary surrounding herself at the topwith former lobbyists and executives from the for-profit college industry. By the Education Department’s own estimates, the DeVos rule shortchanges fraud victims by over $500 million a year compared to the current protections — a boon to the for-profit college industry that has given over $8 million to Republican campaigns. The original Borrower Defense Rule was projected to recoup over $17 billion in losses for harmed students by 2020, and was designed to protect taxpayers.

In February, Allied Progress released results of a national poll that found Secretary DeVos’ approval rating has plummeted to 28 percent, and that there is strong support across the political spectrum for Congress to investigate her recent misconduct.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

There Are Over 6,000 Pending Borrower Defense Claims In Senator Thom Tillis’ (R-NC) State.

There Are 6,193 Pending Borrower Defense Claims In North Carolina, Represented By Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC).

As Of September 30, 2019, There Were 6,193 Pending Borrower Defense Claims In North Carolina.[Borrower Defense to Repayment Loan Forgiveness Data September 2019 Report, Federal Student Aid Data Center, accessed 01/24/20]

  • Thom Tillis Has Been A Senator For North Carolina Since 2015. [About Thom, Thom Tillis U.S. Senator for North Carolina, accessed 01/24/20]

Sen. Thom Tillis Has Taken $33,000 In Political Contributions From The For-Profit College Industry.

Sen. Thom Tillis Has Taken $33,000 From The For-Profit College Industry.

Over His Career, Senator Thom Tillis Has Received $33,000 From The For-Profit College Industry. [“For-profit Education: Money to Congress,” OpenSecrets, accessed 01/24/20]

Sen. Thom Tillis Has Taken $92,600 In Political Contributions From Betsy DeVos And Her Family.

Throughout Sen. Thom Tillis’ Congressional Career, He Has Received $92,600 In Political Contributions From Betsy DeVos And Her Family.

Date Recipient Contributor Amount
03/26/19 Thom Tillis Committee DeVos, Suzanne Cheryl $2,800
03/26/19 Thom Tillis Committee DeVos, Maria P. $2,800
03/26/19 Thom Tillis Committee DeVos, Douglas L. $2,800
03/26/19 Thom Tillis Committee DeVos, Daniel G. $2,800
03/26/19 Thom Tillis Committee DeVos, Suzanne Cheryl $2,800
03/26/19 Thom Tillis Committee DeVos, Maria P. $2,800
03/26/19 Thom Tillis Committee DeVos, Douglas L. $2,800
03/26/19 Thom Tillis Committee DeVos, Daniel G. $2,800
11/30/14 Thom Tillis Committee DeVos, Suzanne Cheryl $2,600
11/30/14 Thom Tillis Committee DeVos, Suzanne Cheryl -$2,600
11/30/14 Thom Tillis Committee DeVos, Richard M. $2,600
11/30/14 Thom Tillis Committee DeVos, Richard M. -$2,600
11/30/14 Thom Tillis Committee DeVos, Elisabeth $2,600
11/30/14 Thom Tillis Committee DeVos, Pamella G. $2,600
11/30/14 Thom Tillis Committee DeVos, Pamella G. -$2,600
11/30/14 Thom Tillis Committee DeVos, Maria P. $2,600
11/30/14 Thom Tillis Committee DeVos, Maria P. -$2,600
11/30/14 Thom Tillis Committee DeVos, Helen $2,600
11/30/14 Thom Tillis Committee DeVos, Helen -$2,600
11/30/14 Thom Tillis Committee DeVos, Elisabeth $2,600
11/30/14 Thom Tillis Committee DeVos, Elisabeth -$2,600
11/30/14 Thom Tillis Committee DeVos, Douglas L. $2,600
11/30/14 Thom Tillis Committee DeVos, Douglas L. -$2,600
11/30/14 Thom Tillis Committee DeVos, Daniel G. $2,600
11/30/14 Thom Tillis Committee DeVos, Daniel G. -$2,600
09/30/14 Thom Tillis Committee DeVos, Suzanne Cheryl $2,600
09/30/14 Thom Tillis Committee DeVos, Richard M. $2,600
09/30/14 Thom Tillis Committee DeVos, Richard M., Jr. $2,600
09/30/14 Thom Tillis Committee DeVos, Pamella G. $2,600
09/30/14 Thom Tillis Committee DeVos, Maria P. $2,600
09/30/14 Thom Tillis Committee DeVos, Helen $2,600
09/30/14 Thom Tillis Committee DeVos, Douglas L. $2,600
09/30/14 Thom Tillis Committee DeVos, Daniel G. $2,600
09/30/14 Thom Tillis Committee DeVos, Suzanne Cheryl $2,600
09/30/14 Thom Tillis Committee DeVos, Richard M. $2,600
09/30/14 Thom Tillis Committee DeVos, Richard, Jr. $2,600
09/30/14 Thom Tillis Committee DeVos, Pamella G. $2,600
09/30/14 Thom Tillis Committee DeVos, Maria P. $2,600
09/30/14 Thom Tillis Committee DeVos, Helen $2,600
09/30/14 Thom Tillis Committee DeVos, Douglas L. $2,600
09/30/14 Thom Tillis Committee DeVos, Daniel G. $2,600
06/09/14 Thom Tillis Committee DeVos, Suzanne Cheryl $2,600
06/09/14 Thom Tillis Committee DeVos, Richard M. $2,600
06/09/14 Thom Tillis Committee DeVos, Richard M., Jr. $2,600
06/09/14 Thom Tillis Committee DeVos, Pamella G. $2,600
06/09/14 Thom Tillis Committee DeVos, Maria P. $2,600
06/09/14 Thom Tillis Committee DeVos, Helen $2,600
06/09/14 Thom Tillis Committee DeVos, Elisabeth $2,600
06/09/14 Thom Tillis Committee DeVos, Douglas L. $2,600
06/09/14 Thom Tillis Committee DeVos, Daniel G. $2,600
11/11/13 Thom Tillis Committee DeVos, Richard M., Jr. $2,600

Betsy DeVos’ Family Includes Richard, Dick, Richard, Helen, Dan, Pamella, Doug, Maria, And Suzanne Cheryl DeVos, Plus Edgar And Elsa Prince. “Members of the DeVos family who contributed to Larsen’s judicial campaign in Michigan included DeVos; her husband Dick, who is president of investment firm The Windquest Group; Dick DeVos’ parents, Richard and Helen; Dan DeVos, Betsy DeVos’ brother-in-law and his wife, Pamella; another brother-in-law, Doug DeVos, and his wife, Maria; and sister-in-law Suzanne Cheryl DeVos. The family’s patriarch, Richard DeVos, co-founded Amway, the global direct-sales company.” [Seung Min Kim, “DeVos and family members donated to Trump judicial nominee,” Politico, 05/31/19]

Previously, Sen. Thom Tillis Hindered A Bill That Would Have Restored Education Benefits To Veterans Defrauded By The Now-Shuttered ITT Technical Institutes.

Senator Thom Tillis Hindered A Bill That Would Have Restored G.I. Bill Benefits For Defrauded Military Veterans Who Attended ITT Technical Institutes, The Chain Of For-Profit Colleges Which Closed In September 2016.

When The For-Profit College Chain ITT Technical Institutes Closed In September 2016, “Many Of Its Students Became Eligible For Federal Student-Loan Forgiveness” But “Military Veterans Using VA Education Benefits Got No Such Relief.” “When ITT Technical Institutes, a chain of for-profit career colleges accused of fraud, shuttered operations this month, many of its students became eligible for federal student-loan forgiveness. Military veterans using VA education benefits got no such relief, however. And an effort by U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat, failed to change that this week. This is not the final word. But unless Congress acts soon, Brown and others said about 7,000 veterans who were attending ITT Tech classes, including 520 in Ohio, could be affected.” [Stephen Koff, “Veterans harmed by ITT Tech’s closing can’t get congressional help yet,” Cleveland.com, 09/29/16]

  • Military Veterans Receive Their Student Loans And Financial Aid From The Department Of Veterans Affairs, As Opposed To The Department Of Education. “Most college students get student loans or other financial aid through programs coordinated or run by the U.S. Department of Education. Military veterans, however, are eligible for tuition and housing allowances through the Department of Veteran Affairs. This difference is usually invisible to the public. But the different federal departments face different regulations and financial constraints.” [Stephen Koff, “Veterans harmed by ITT Tech’s closing can’t get congressional help yet,” com, 09/29/16]

Senator Thom Tillis Objected To The Unanimous Consent Of A Bill That Would Have “Restore[d] Any Benefits The Students Otherwise May Be Deprived Of Or Wasted Because Of The ITT Tech’s Actions.” “Brown, a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, proposed in a motion Wednesday evening that the Senate immediately help veterans affected. The bill he wanted to pass by unanimous consent, avoiding the need for a lengthy roll-call vote, would restore any benefits the students otherwise may be deprived of or wasted because of the ITT Tech’s actions. […] But as in earlier discussions, a Republican objected, saying Congress first needed a way to make sure VA had the money. Although Brown called such a concern a ‘red herring’ — Congress tends to find money when it really needs to — Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina said the concern is legitimate. Tillis’s objection killed any prospect of unanimous consent.” [Stephen Koff, “Veterans harmed by ITT Tech’s closing can’t get congressional help yet,” Cleveland.com, 09/29/16]

  • “The Bill Would Allow The Department Of Veterans Affairs To Begin To Restore G.I. Bill Benefits Of Veterans Who Were Affected By The Closure Of ITT Education Services, Inc. (ITT Tech).” [Press Release, Sen. Sherrod Brown, 09/28/16]

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