15 Civ. 1230 (S.D.N.Y.)

On May 18, 2015, the New York Legal Assistance Group filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education, to compel the Department to release documents outlining how students who have been harmed and misled by unscrupulous institutions of higher education can assert their rights to have their federal student loans cancelled.

NYLAG submitted a FOIA request to the Department on December 5, 2014, seeking disclosure of records related to student borrower options for seeking debt relief, and related documents. Initially, the Department denied NYLAG’s request for a fee waiver in connection with its FOIA request, but after NYLAG filed an administrative appeal, the Department granted that request.

More than five months after NYLAG submitted its FOIA request, the Department had not produced any records. This is despite the fact that 20 years ago, Congress had directed the Department of Education to establish policies and procedures for student loan borrowers to seek to have their federal loan debt canceled based on the misconduct of the schools they attended.

Only after NYLAG filed its FOIA lawsuit in federal court, the Department began to produce some records. Then, in August 2015 the Department claimed, after it had produced a few batches documents, that there were no more government records that were relevant to NYLAG’s request. Since then, NYLAG has been negotiating with the Department’s lawyers, and has secured the release of further waves of documents. We are very concerned with the government’s practice of redacting so much content from these records and are continuing to negotiate with the government to ensure the release of all information to which the public is entitled.

NYLAG Attorneys:  Jane Greengold Stevens, Jason Glick

Relevant Links: