In June 2017, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) postponed the effective date of a set of rules known as the Borrower Defense Regulations, which were designed to protect student borrowers from school fraud, abuse, and abrupt closures that have been prevalent in the for-profit higher education sector. As justification for the delay, the agency cited a lawsuit filed by the California Association of Private Postsecondary Schools (CAPPS) challenging the implementation of the rules.
On June 30, 2017, the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking communications from senior department employees concerning potential or current litigation over the Borrower Defense Regulations, including communications with representative of CAPPS and Career Education Colleges and Universities, both of which represent the for-profit college sector. ED disclosed some records in December but withheld others. Moreover, ED failed to disclose information known to be in its possession that is responsive to the FOIA request. NCLC submitted an administrative appeal but received no response to their appeal.
With Public Citizen Litigation Group as co-counsel, NCLC filed a lawsuit challenging the withholding of records in the U.S. District Court of the District of Massachusetts.