Education Secretary Betsy DeVoss visits with students at the White House on April 9, 2018. File Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI | License Photo
July 11 (UPI) -- The American Federation of Teachers, one of largest educators unions in the United States, filed a federal lawsuit Thursday against the Department of Education, demanding it fix a loan forgiveness program it says is misleading.
Complainants say they believed their students' loans would be forgiven in 10 years under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, with timely payments and public service -- but were later told they were in the wrong program.
Department figures say just 1 percent of those who applied and believed they'd made the required payments were approved.
Union President Randi Weingarten says Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has ignored complaints.
"Twelve years ago, Congress made a bipartisan commitment to help millions of workers pay off their student loan debt as recognition for their dedicated public service," Weingarten said in a statement. "DeVos has broken that promise and vindictively -- and illegally -- blocked their path to the middle class.
"Instead of helping the millions of Americans owed debt relief ... DeVos has hurt and pauperized them."
The federation demands in the suit the department fix the program so applicants qualify the way Congress promised. The complaint also asks for a much-needed appeals process.
"The Fifth Amendment provides: 'No person shall ... be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law,'" the suit states. "Due process requires that, at a minimum, individuals receive notice and an opportunity to be heard before they are deprived of property."
The department has not yet commented on the proceeding.