The U.S. Education Department said it will forgive $150 million in federal student loans as part of a 2016 rule that Secretary Betsy DeVos previously tried to block.
Department officials began notifying 15,000 students on Friday that their loans will automatically be erased because they attended colleges that closed while they were still in school or shortly after they finished. About half of them attended campuses under the for-profit Corinthian Colleges chain, which collapsed in 2015 amid widespread accusations of fraud.
The students are eligible for loan relief under an Obama-era rule that was intended to make it easier for defrauded students to get their loans cleared. Part of the rule granted automatic loan forgiveness to students who attended colleges that closed more than three years in the past and who never attended another school afterward.
DeVos delayed the rule in 2017 following a legal challenge from a California association of for-profit colleges, and she later moved to scrap the rule entirely and proposed her own replacement, which would have eliminated automatic loan discharges and raised the bar to prove fraud by schools.