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Thursday September 20th, 2018 5:01PM

California sues over Corinthian student debt relief claims

By The Associated Press
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The federal Department of Education is refusing to process debt relief claims from tens of thousands of students who had federal loans to attend Corinthian Colleges, California's attorney general claimed Thursday in the latest lawsuit against the Trump administration.

More than 50,000 relief claims are pending since the for-profit college collapsed, including 13,000 from Californians, according to the lawsuit Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed in federal court in San Francisco. Attorneys general in Illinois, Massachusetts and New York are filing a separate similar lawsuit.

The lawsuit, which also names Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, is the latest in a series by California and other states challenging Trump administration policies on issues ranging from immigration to the environment.

The latest lawsuit says students are eligible for relief after courts ruled that they were defrauded by Corinthian in violation of California's consumer protection laws.

U.S. Department of Education spokesman Jim Bradshaw said he could not immediately comment.

Education department officials earlier this week began negotiating to change federal rules meant to protect students from fraud by colleges and universities.

A 1994 rule allowed loans to be forgiven if a college deceived students, but it was rarely used until the end of the Corinthian and ITT Tech for-profit chains. The Obama administration revised the rule in 2016 to add more protections for students, but DeVos froze those revisions until new rules can be written.

Becerra previously sued U.S. education officials for alleged illegal delays in regulations to protect against misconduct by for-profit schools.

Becerra called the federal delays "unconscionable."

"After having their American Dreams stolen by a so-called higher education institution, Corinthian students are now being denied critical relief by a Secretary of Education hostile to their plight," he said in a statement.

Before DeVos acted, the department had granted relief to 28,000 students whose claims were similar to those that now are pending, Becerra said.

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