Saturday, January 27, 2018

Michigan State President Lou Anna Simon resigns in wake of Larry Nassar scandal: Perhaps she should go to jail

Larry Nassar, a faculty member at Michigan State University and team physician for two women's varsity teams, was convicted of sexually assaulting seven girls. His sentence: 40 to 175 years in prison.

How many women and girls did Nassar abuse? We will never know, but 150 women spoke at his sentencing hearing.

Responding to mounting pressure, Lou Anna Simon, MSU's president, resigned her post a few days ago. She refused, however, to take any responsibility for Nassar's rampant sexual abuse. In her resignation letter, Simon denied a university cover-up and blamed her resignation on politics. “As tragedies are politicized, blame is inevitable," she said in her letter. "As president, it is only natural that I am the focus of this anger.”

Simon adamantly denied knowing anything about Nassar's predatory behavior. But how can that be true?

The U.S. Department of Education  conducted a Title IX investigation in 2014, and that investigation centered on Nassar. The Detroit News reported that at least 14 MSU employees knew about allegations against Nassar, which first began surfacing two decades ago.

Is Simon saying she didn't know any of the details about a Title IX investigation that could have led to a massive federal fine and loss of federal funds? Is she saying she knew nothing about accusations against Nassar over a 20-year period while other less senior officials knew Nassar was trouble?

No, it is simply inconceivable that Simon and other top MSU officials were totally in the dark about what Nassar was accused of doing.

In any event, Simon did not resign in disgrace. She was paid $750,000 a year as MSU president, and she will keep that salary for two years. Then she will rejoin the MSU faculty as a tenured professor, when she will begin drawing an annual salary of $563,000--more than three times the average salary of other MSU tenured professors.

Simon's termination agreement also has some great perks. She will get tickets to MSU athletic events, a VIP parking pass, secretarial services, and tech support. Not bad for a a college president who was asleep at the wheel as the Nassar scandal unfolded.

Mark Hollis, MSU's athletic director, also retired from his job. Why? Because, as he said publicly, "I care." But he will keep all his generous retirement benefits, which will probably include some football tickets.

How is MSU as an institution responding to this disgraceful series of events?  The university has been sued by 130 victims, but moved to dismiss the lawsuits on the grounds that it is immune from liability.

Simon said she regretted that the university's get-out-of-jail free-card argument might seem disrespectful to Nassar's victims, for whom she expressed "the utmost respect and sympathy."

On the other hand, Joel Ferguson, a MSU  board member, referred to the victims as ambulance chasers seeking a payday.  He later apologized for that remark, which I am sure was sincere.

According to Associated Press, MSU has set aside $10 million to deal with claims brought by Nassar's victims. This paltry sum shows MSU's leadership still doesn't get it. Penn State and Baylor University each spent a quarter billion dollars dealing with their separate sexual assault scandals. More than a dozen Catholic dioceses have declared bankruptcy to settle hundreds of claims of child rape.

As the Nassar scandal demonstrates, American universities have responded to sexual abuse exactly like the Catholic Church. Cardinal Bernard Law, who covered up sexual abuse by dozens of Catholic priests in the Boston Archdiocese, was buried with papal honors in the Basilica of Saint Maria Maggiori. Lou Anna Simon floats away on a golden parachute in the wake of a shocking scandal involving more than 100 victims. Meanwhile, MSU tells the courts it doesn't owe student sexual abuse victims a goddamn dime.

Sexual abuse scandals at American universities will not stop until senior administrators go to prison. Graham Spanier, Penn State's former president, recently received a two-month jail sentence for child endangerment in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Two senior Penn State administrators pleaded guilty to similar charges to avoid a trial, and then got longer jail sentences than Spanier.  He should have gotten at least 5 years.

Lets' find out what Lou Anna Simon knew about Larry Nassar's criminal behavior before the scandal made the news. If she knew as much about Nassar as Spanier knew about Jerry Sandusky, Simon should go to jail.

MSU President Lou Anna Simon: Should she go to jail?


David Eggert and Larry Page. Amid scandal, Mich. St. athletic director retires. The (Baton Rouge) Advocate, January 27, 2018.

Matthew Haag and Marc Tracy. Michigan State President Lou Anna Simon Resigns Amid Nassar Fallout. New York Times, January 24, 2018.

Will Hobson.Former Penn State president Graham Spanier sentenced to jail for child endangerment. Washington post, June 2, 2017.

Rick Seltzer. Outgoing Michigan State president's employment contract draws scrutiny. Inside Higher Ed, January 26, 2018.

Student loans--the other debt crisis. Credit Slips essay by Alan White

Student loans - the other debt crisis

posted by Alan White at
In a low unemployment economy, an entire generation is struggling, and millions are failing, to repay student loan debt. As many as 40% of ALL borrowers recently graduating are likely to default over the life of their student loans, according to a recent Brookings Institute analysis. Total outstanding student loan debt is approaching 1.5 trillion dollars, exceeding credit card debt, exceeding auto loan debt. Two other key points from the Brookings analysis: 1) for-profit schools remain the primary driver of high student loan defaults, and 2) black college graduates default at five times the rate of white college graduates, due to persistent unemployment, higher use of for-profit colleges and lower parental income and assets.
The rising delinquency (11% currently) and lifetime default rates are all the more disturbing given that federal student loan rules, in theory, permit all borrowers to repay based on a percentage of their income. Most student loans are funded by the U.S. Treasury, but administered by private contractors: student loan servicers. Study after study has found that student loan borrowers are systematically assigned to inappropriate payment plans,  yet the U.S. Education Department continues renewing contracts with these failing servicers. The weird public-private partnership Congress has created and tinkered with since the 1965 Higher Education Act is broken.
Unmanageable student loan debt will saddle a generation of students with burdens that will slow or halt them on the path to prosperity. Student loan collectors have supercreditor powers, to garnish wages and seize tax refunds without going to court, to charge collection fees up to 40%, to deny graduates access to transcripts and job licenses, and to keep pursuing debts, zombie-like, even after borrowers go through bankruptcy and discharge other debts. Recent graduates cannot get mortgages to buy homes, even if they are not in default, because their student loan payments are taking such a bite out of their monthly incomes. State legislatures have piled on educational requirements for a variety of entry-level jobs (nurse's aides, child care workers, teachers, etc.) while cutting state funding for public colleges and increasing tuition: unfunded job mandates. Finally, the combination of high debt and the harsh consequences of default are widening the racial wealth and income gaps.
Current reform proposals would make a bad situation worse. For example, it is difficult to see how increasing the percentage of income required for income-based repayment plans will help student borrowers, nor how extending the repayment period before loan retirement would reduce defaults. What is needed instead is to 1) deal with the for-profit school problem, 2) restore the state-level commitment to funding public colleges, 3) fix the broken federal student loan servicer contracting, 4) rethink the collection and bankruptcy regime for student loans and 5) repeal the student loan tax, i.e. the above-cost interest rates college graduates pay to the Treasury. Among other things. More on these themes in later posts.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

UC's Janet Napolitano and Harvard's Drew Faust are silly, little people: Doing nothing to ease the suffering of college-loan debtors

In the scene at the water well in Lawrence of Arabia, Sherif Ali (played by Omar Sharif) gallops across the shimmering desert on a camel and shoots an Arab from a rival tribe for the petty offense of drinking from Sherif Ali's well.

T.E. Lawrence, a British officer played by Peter O'Toole, is outraged and rails against Sherif Ali's senseless violence against a fellow Arab. "So long as the Arabs fight tribe against tribe," Lawrence tells Sherif Ali, "so long will they be a little people, a silly people--greedy, barbarous, and cruel, as you are."

Today it seems that Americans are dividing into warring tribes--left against right, red against blue, progressives against conservatives. And this tribal warfare is causing us to descend to being little and silly people.

Nowhere is this more apparent than at our elite universities, where academic leaders engage in political posturing over petty issues while saying nothing about the suffering experienced by millions of student-loan debtors.

Here is an example. Janet Napolitano, President of the University of California, recently pledged $302,000 to expand food pantries at 10 UC campuses to help in the fight against "food insecurity" among college students.

I fully support food pantries for anyone who needs food. But Napolitano's gift, stretched over two years, is a pittance.  In fact, it amounts to only 5 percent of Napolitano's personal compensation over a two-year period.

Has Napolitano said anything about the suffering experienced by student-loan debtors in California? Has she tried to lower tuition costs at UC? Has she spoken out in favor of bankruptcy relief for student debtors who have been dragged down by massive debt they can never repay? Has she publicly criticized the for-profit colleges that have exploited so many low SES and minority students in the Sunshine State?

I don't think so. In fact, Napolitano once referred to student complaints about UC tuition hikes as "this crap."

How about Drew Faust, who pulled down nearly $1.5 million in total compensation while president of Harvard and who pocketed another $200,000 in cash and stock for serving on the Board of Directors of Staples? She sanctioned single-sex social clubs at Harvard--clubs that Harvard does not even recognize. But who gives a damn about privileged college boys and their private clubs?

Has Faust said or done anything to help solve the student-loan crisis?  No, she has not.

In fact, I don't think any president of an elite American university has uttered a peep about the for-profit colleges, insane tuition prices, or the total disregard for college students who have borrowed themselves out of the middle-class in order to obtain wildly overvalued college degrees.

I don't think any of these pompous academics have directed their institutions' lobbyists to put pressure on Congress to reform the bankruptcy laws so that insolvent college borrowers can shed their student loans in bankruptcy court and get a fresh start in life.

I could be wrong about Napolitano and Faust. Maybe they've done a hell of a lot to ease the suffering of student-loan debtors. If I judged them unfairly, I will apologize; and I will send them both a $20 gift card for a meal at the Waffle House. Who knows? They might meet one of their former graduates working as a Waffle House fry cook.


Nanette Asimov. Many college students going hungry, need donated food groceries and food stamps. San Francisco Chronicle, November 23, 217.

Isabelle Geczy. Napolitano--"This Crap" Pays Your $570,000 base salary. The Bottom Line, April 1, 2015.

John S. Rosenberg. Harvard Discloses Leaders' Compensation, Harvard Magazine, May 12, 1027.

John S. Rosenberg. Harvard Imposes Single-Gender Social Club Sanctions. Harvard Magazine, December 5, 2017.






Thursday, January 18, 2018

America's harsh treatment of student-loan debtors: Greed, corruption and heartlessness reach Dickensian proportions

That old wheel is gonna roll around once more
When it does it will even up the score
Don't be weak, as they sew, they will reap
Turn the other cheek and don't give in
That old wheel will roll around again

This Old Wheel
Jennifer Ember Pierce, songwriter
Sung best by Johnny Cash

If you haven't read Charles Dickens by now, just skip it. 
Dickens is well worth reading for his descriptions of injustice in Victorian England: the workhouses, the brutal schools, debtors prisons, and the mercilessness of English law. But  contemporary America is descending to the depths of social injustice every bit as sordid as conditions in Dickens' England. If you don't believe me, read Matthew Desmond's Evicted, published less than two years ago.  
In particular, millions of student-loan debtors are suffering just as much as the characters in Oliver Twist, David Copperfield or Pickwick Papers.  College debtors are defaulting at the rate of 3,000 a day. The U.S. Department reports a three-year default rate of 11 percent, but that figure is meaningless. The five-year default rate for a recent cohort of student debtors is 28 percent, for students attending for-profit schools it's 47 percent.
And the default rate only tells part of the story. Millions of people are in the economic-hardship deferment program--excused from making monthly loan payments while interest piles up. Now we see people stumble into the bankruptcy courts owing three and even four times what they borrowed.

Our government treats all student-loan defaulters like criminals. We aren't hanging and deporting debtors like the English did back in the nineteenth century, but they are treated pretty rough.

For starters, there is no statute of limitations on an unpaid federal student loan. Even if you borrowed the money so long ago you can't remember the school you attended, the government's debt collectors can come after you. 

In Lockhart v. United States, our lovely Supreme Court upheld the law permitting the government to garnish the social checks of elderly student-loan defaulters. The vote was  9 to 0. There were no liberals on the Court the day the Lockhart decision came down. 

And Congress and the courts have conspired to deprive distressed student-loan debtors access to the bankruptcy courts. Under the "undue hardship" standard nestled in 11 U.S.C. sec. 523(a)(8),  debtors cannot discharge their student loans unless they can show undue hardship, which the courts have interpreted harshly.

In recent years, there have been some compassionate and sensible decisions by the bankruptcy courts: the Abney case, the Lamento decision, and the Acosta-Conniff decision out of Alabama (which was reversed on appeal).

But the Department of Education, Educational Credit Management Corporation, and other debt collection agencies have appealed many of these decisions; and few student debtors have the financial or emotional resources for court fights that stretch on for years.  In the Hedlund case, for example, a graduate of Whittier Law School fought in the federal courts for ten years before he finally won a partial bankruptcy relief from his student loans.

Several federal appellate courts have softened the "undue hardship" standard somewhat: the Roth decision by the Ninth Circuit Bankruptcy Appellate Panel, the Seventh Circuit's Krieger decision, and the Eighth Circuit BAP Court's Fern opinion.

By and large, however, the bankruptcy courts have abdicated their role of providing honest but unfortunate debtors a fresh start. No wonder the myth prevails that it is impossible to discharge student loans in bankruptcy. And the Department of Education perpetuates this myth by opposing bankruptcy for people who are in severe distress, like the quadriplegic in the Myhre case.

Now we are enduring the Trump presidency. Betsy DeVos, Trump's Secretary of Education, has a nasty disposition toward student-loan debtors. She is busily dismantling the Obama administration's modest initiatives to rein in the corrupt for-profit college industry. The Republican dominated House Education Committee recently released a bill that would do away with all student--loan forgiveness programs. And a bill has just been introduced to protect attorneys from being sued for engaging in unfair debt collection.

America's financial industry, cheered on by the business news channels, chirp the Panglossian notion that Americans are living in the best of all possible worlds. The stock market soars ever skyward, and the economist says we have virtually reached full employment. The economy is growing at a healthy rate, and everyone is becoming wealthier.

But that's bullshit. The reality is this: millions of Americans are living day to day, burdened by consumer debt they can't repay. Student-loan indebtedness now exceeds accumulated credit card debt and car loans. Our Congress, our President, our Secretary of Education, and our courts are indifferent to the stark reality that we are constructing a society very much like Dickensian England.

Justice, Johnny Cash assures us, will eventually be restored. "That old wheel is gonna roll around once more. When it does it will even up the score." I hope Johnny is right. It will be a good sign if DeVos is forced from the Education Secretary's job and publicly disgraced. 

Don't give in; that old wheel is gonna roll around again.


Abney v. U.S. Department of Education, 540 B.R. 681 (Bankr. W.D. Mo. 2015).

Matthew Desmond. Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City. New York: Broadway Books, 2016.

Fern v. Fedloan Servicing563 B.R. 1 (8th Cir. BAP 2017).

Lamento v. U.S. Department of Education, 520 B.R. 667 (N.D. Ohio 2014).

Lockhart v. United States, 546 U.S. 142 (2005). 

Krieger v. Educational Credit Management Corporation713 F.3d 882 (9th Cir. B.A.P 2013).

Myhre v. U.S. Department of Education, 503 B.R. 698 (W.D. Wis. 2013).

Steve Rhode. Proposed Law Will Make it More Likely Debtors Will be Sued Faster if in n Collections. Get Out of Debt Guy (blog), January 18, 2018.
Roth v. Educational Credit Management Corporation490 B.R. 908 (B.A.P. 9th Cir. 2013).

The Wrong Move on Student LoansNew York Times, April 6, 2017.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Dept of Ed Puts Fraud First Over Students and Common Sense. Essay by Steve Rhode

By SteveRhode, January 3, 2018

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos seems to be waging a terrible war against student loan debtors who have been defrauded by their schools in order to extract federal student loan money. Since the Trump administration took over the Department of Education has not actually delivered relief to a single Borrower Defense to Repayment claim. Yet they brag as of December 20, 2017 they have just approved “12,900 pending claims submitted by former Corinthian Colleges, Inc. students, and 8,600 pending claims have been denied.”
Under that Department of Education program the student previously would be forgiven from the student loans obtained by deception and the government would claw back the money the school got.
Most of these claims have been submitted by students of for-profit schools who played fast and loose with their marketing.
But it seems the government is turning its back on students who have been misled by schools to get their student loan money. Not only is the Department of Education changing the rules but they are also proposing rules that students who land better jobs after graduation should not be forgiven from the loans they were defrauded by. Either you are or are not a victim of fraud but the proposed policy create a middle ground where victims get to be only partial victims.
Under the deadline of “Improved Borrower Defense Discharge Process Will Aid Defrauded Borrowers, Protect Taxpayers” the government proposes what they say is more fair. Department of Education Secretary DeVos says “No fraud is acceptable, and students deserve relief if the school they attended acted dishonestly.” But then goes on to say relief is conditional based on gainful employment. – Source

While the Department of Education brags about their recent wave of Corinthian College Borrower Defense to Repayment claims they also disclose “rather than taking an “all or nothing” approach to discharge, the improved process will provide tiers of relief to compensate former Corinthian students based on damages incurred.”

Relief from fraud will be dependent on the current earnings of the victims. Victims earning 70% and above of the income of their peers will only receive a 30 percent forgiveness of the fraudulent student loans. So to be clear, that income test is against the other students who were the victims of the same fraud and not the general population.
As a bonus the Department of Education gives fraud victims this carot “to mitigate the inconvenience for how long it has taken to adjudicate claims, the Department will apply a credit to interest that accrues on loans starting one year after the borrower defense application is filed.”
So the Department of Education will take forever to deal with the forgiveness application and then only tack on a year worth of interest while they drag their feet.
Now to add insult to injury the Department of Education is proposing making it much harder for students to prove they were subject to misrepresentation to induce enrollment in an effort to extract money from students loan debtors.
The proposed forgiveness plan is to eliminate any successful judgment against a school by an Attorney General as proof of deception. Instead the individual student would have to obtain an individual judgment against the school. This would require a legal action that nearly all students would never be able to afford to file. Additionally the defrauded student would have to show clear and convincing evidence they were intentionally misled and that misrepresentation let to monetary harm.
“They’ve made it almost impossible for borrowers to meet the misrepresentation standard by requiring them to demonstrate the intent of the school especially when students don’t have the power of discovery” to examine the inner workings of a school, said Clare McCann, deputy director of higher education policy at New America, who worked on the Obama-era policy. “They took every dial and dialed to the far extreme. It really tries to make [the regulation] as useless as possible.”
Pretty soon we are going to need a Department of Education Victim Helpline to assist people soon to be screwed over by a government department that clearly appears to be putting for-profit colleges first.


Steve's essay was originally posted on The Get Out of Debt Guy web site.
Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here. 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Student Loan Default Crisis grows worser and worser: Brooking Institution says minorities and for-profit students are hardest hit

First of all, I realize that the word "worser" is not standard English. Nevertheless, "worser" appears in Hamlet (act 3,scene 4). If it is good enough for Shakespeare, it is good enough for me.

Now to the topic at hand. Judith Scott-Clayton recently published a report for the Brookings Institution on the student-loan default crisis. Twelve-year default rates are going up--with minority students and for-profit-college attenders experiencing the highest default rates.

For the 2004 cohort of borrowers who attended a for-profit college, the 12-year default rate was 46.5 percent (darn near half). For African American borrowers from the same cohort, 37.5 percent defaulted within 12 years. The black default rate was three times higher than the white default rate (12.4 percent) and six times higher than the rate for Asians (only 6.2 percent).

Scott-Clayton's report makes clear that the crisis in student-loan defaults among African Americans is acute. Based on the current trajectory, she projects 70 percent of black borrowers will default on their student loans by the end of 20 years.

Scott-Clayton points out that African American default rates are high even for black students who graduate from college. The default rate for African American graduates is five times higher than the default rate among white graduates.  In fact, she points out, the default rate for black college graduates is higher than the default rate for white college dropouts.

African Americans also borrow more money than white students. For the 2004 entry cohort, black students borrowed twice as much as white students for their undergraduate education.

The Scott-Clayton report is alarming, but a 2015 Brookings report (which Scott-Clayton referenced) is even more alarming. Looney and Yannelis, authors of the 2015 report, found that 47 percent of the people in the 2009 cohort of borrowers who took out loans to attend for-profit colleges defaulted within 5 years. For the cohort as a whole, the default rate was 28 percent.

Basically, however, the Scott-Clayton report and the Looney-Yannelis report told us what we already knew.  Student borrowers who attend for-profit colleges have shocking student-loan default rates; and African American students have much higher default rates than white students.

Scott-Clayton concluded her report with some tepid suggestions, which I will quote:
[T]he results suggest that diffuse concern with rising levels of average debt is misplaced. Rather, the results provide support for robust efforts to regulate the for-profit sector, to improve degree attainment and promote income-contingent loan repayment options for all students, and to more fully address the particular challenges faced by college students of color.
Frankly, I disagree with Scott-Clayton's bland recommendations. First, of all, we should be very concerned about the rising level of student debt across all sectors of higher education--not just the for-profit sector.  Millions of student borrowers are suffering, and some of those sufferers are white graduates of Ivy League colleges.

Secondly, although it is easy to call for more "robust" regulation of the for-profits, Betsy DeVos is headed in the opposite direction. DeVos is doing all she can to prop up the corrupt for-profit college industry and to lift all regulatory constraints against the for-profit institutions.  In my view, the best way to deal with the for-profit colleges is to cut off their federal funding and shut them down.

And I stridently disagree with Scott-Clayton's blithe call to promote income-contingent repayment plans. Most of the people in those plans are not making monthly payments large enough to service accruing interest.  At the end of their 20- or 25-year repayment plans, many will owe more than they borrowed.

Moreover, although people who complete long-term repayment plans will have any remaining debt forgiven, the amount of the forgiven debt will be taxable to them.

I suspect the Brookings Institution is advancing a hidden agenda with its reports on the student-loan crisis. Brookings wants the public to focus on minority students and the for-profit colleges while ignoring the fact that debt levels are rising across all sectors of higher education and injuring millions of student borrowers--not just students of color.

Let's face facts. The for-profit colleges are not the only institutions ripping off their students. The Ivy League schools are exploiting students as well. And with each passing day, the crisis gets worser and worser.


Adam Looney and Constantine Yannelis. A crisis in student loans? How changes in the characteristics of borrowers and the institutions they attended contribute to rising loan defaults. Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, 2015.

Judith Scott-Clayton. The looming student loan default crisis is worse than we thought. Brooking Institution, January 11, 2018.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Attention, Student-Loan Debtors: You Are Being Evicted from the Middle Class

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City tells the story of how greed and the nation's legal system have driven poor Americans to the brink of homelessness.  Author Matthew Desmond follows the lives of eight Milwaukee residents who scramble from day to day to avoid being evicted from their homes and thrown into the street. It is a good read, and I highly recommend it.

As I read Desmond's book, I was struck by the similarity between the low-income housing crisis and the student-loan crisis.  As Martin Luther King observed, "Every condition exists simply because someone profits by its existence." Slumlords profit from renting substandard housing to the poor; stockholders and hedge fund owners profit from for-profit colleges.

And slumlords and for-profit colleges both rely on the government to help them exploit the poor. Slumlords can call on the local sheriff to evict tenants for nonpayment; and for-profit colleges rely on Betsy DeVos's Department of Education to protect their venal interests. Landlord-tenant laws favor the landlords, and the Bankruptcy Code protects the banks, which loan money to students at exorbitant interest rates, knowing that student debtors will find it almost impossible to discharge their onerous debts in the bankruptcy courts.

As Desmond wrote in Evicted, "The United States was founded on the noble idea that people have 'certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."  Indeed, the nation's founders considered these rights to be God-given and "essential to the American character."

Desmond argues that "the ideal of liberty has always incorporated not only religious and civil freedoms but also the right to flourish." In twenty-first century America, people need decent housing to flourish and they also need freely accessible education.

But our federal student-loan program is designed to extinguish the American right to pursue happiness and to flourish. The federal government allows corrupt for-profit colleges to lure vulnerable people into enrolling in education programs that are far too expensive and often worthless. The victims are forced to take out student loans. And the federal government stands by to be every student's sugar daddy--distributing about $150 billion a year in various forms of student aid.

The for-profit colleges get more than their fair share of federal money. In fact, many of them receive from 80 to 90 percent of their entire operating budgets from federal student loans and federal Pell grants.

Then when student-loan victims are unable to find well-paying jobs to service their debt, our once generous government becomes a tyrant. The Department of Education opposes bankruptcy relief for nearly everyone--even a quadriplegic (Myhre v. U.S. Department of Education, 2013) and people on the edge of homelessness (Abney v. U.S. Department of Education, 2015).

America will not begin solving the student-loan crisis until our nation's leaders acknowledge that the federal student-loan program is a massive human rights violation that is evicting millions of people from the middle class. Students who took out loans to attend for-profit colleges have been especially hard hit; almost half the students who took out loans to attend a for-profit college default on their loans within five years.

Student debtors are defaulting at the rate of 3,000 people a day, which ruins their credit and leaves them vulnerable to having their wages garnished. The government can even seize part of an elderly defaulter's Social Security check.

How can higher education return to decency and sanity? First, we must remove Betsy DeVos from her post as Secretary of Education. DeVos is about as qualified to run the Department of Education as the late Charlie Manson. And then we must revise the Bankruptcy Code to allow honest but unfortunate student debtors to discharge their loans in bankruptcy court. And finally, we must shut down the for-profit college industry, which DeVos so assiduously protects.

Student-loan debtors: Evicted from the middle class

Abney v. U.S. Department of Education, 540 B.R. 681 (Bankr. W.D. Mo. 2015).

Matthew Desmond. Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City. New York: Broadway Books, 2016.

Myhre v. U.S. Department of Education, 503 B.R. 698 (W.D. Wis. 2013).

The Wrong Move on Student LoansNew York Times, April 6, 2017.