Rep. Alma Adams and the two other North Carolina congressional Democrats are urging Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to guarantee that some students from the defunct Charlotte School of Law can have their federal loans forgiven.
Reps. Adams, G.K. Butterfield, and David Price sent a letter to DeVos requesting that she allow students who were enrolled at the for-profit law school from Dec. 31, 2016, until its closure on Aug. 15, 2017.
"We request that the Department of Education take steps to protect student borrowers who attended CSL and were impacted by the school’s deep-seeded problems…," the lawmakers wrote.
The letter was sent as the education department is reportedly considering altering an Obama-era program in which tens of thousands of students deceived by for-profit colleges had over $550 million in federal loans forgiven.
The Education Department did not respond immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Associated Press reported last week the DeVos is weighing shifting the program to allow only a partial forgiveness of the loans.
"After years of poor bar passage rates and high unemployment statistics, students were left with the bill when Charlotte School of Law closed its doors earlier this year," Adams said.
"Students have been saddled with an average of $200,000 in loan debt, and many have no degree to show for it, yet the Department of Education is considering only partial relief for defrauded students. I urge Secretary DeVos to show compassion for the students impacted and expedite all available procedures to forgive their loans,” the letter read.
Butterfield, a former state judge whose congressional district includes Durham, said "Students shouldn’t be burdened with loans incurred after Charlotte Law School lost its certification in December 2016."
"The U.S. Department of Education can’t ignore the exceptional circumstances of the impacted students, and I urge it to support steps that will protect the borrowers from being further victimized due to the law school’s misconduct."
The Charlotte School of Law shuttered in August after North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein notified the education department that the 11-year-old for-profit school was no longer licensed to operate in the state.
Beset by admission problems and state bar exam test scores that were North Carolina’s lowest, the Charlotte School of Law became the first accredited U.S. law school in history to be thrown out of the federal student loan program.
Stein has written DeVos asking that the education department expand loan forgiveness protections for former Charlotte Law School students who qualify.