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The Hill reports that as of May 1, student advocacy organizations are suing Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos for continuing to garnish the wages of workers with student debt, even though recent legislation has suspended the practice.

As the Hill writes, “Wage garnishment for student borrows allowed the Department of Education to withhold up to 15 percent of wages from those who owe student debt.”

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau explains that the recent CARES Act implemented the “automatic suspension of principal and interest payments on federally-held student loans through September 30, 2020.”

However, Student Defense and the National Consumer Law Center allege that the Department of Education has continued garnishing wages. They demand that the Department immediately stop garnishing wages and refund all money that has been taken through garnishment.

The Center said that it has been “flooded” with complaints about wage garnishment. Persis Yu, director of the Center, said, “Right now, low-wage workers hit hardest by the economic impact of the pandemic need their paychecks to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads” and that “By continuing to use its harsh collection tools during this public health and economic crisis, the Department of Education is placing the health, safety, and well-being of vulnerable student loan borrowers in peril.”

Angela Morabito, spokesperson for the Department of Education, did not comment on the specific litigation but did say to the Hill that the department was working to notify employers to stop garnishing wages.

Payments we receive via garnished wages will be immediately processed for refund, and the employer will be contacted again to ensure the guidance to stop garnishing wages is understood… The Department relies on employers to stop garnishing wages, but is taking every measure to contact employers and refund garnished wages to borrowers.”

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Image credit: Gage Skidmore /CC BY-SA 2.0/Flickr