The opinion of the court was delivered by: GARY LANCASTER, District Judge
Plaintiff, Adrienne Johnson, seeks judicial review of an
administrative decision, made by defendant, United States
Department of Education, that Johnson's student loan debts may be
collected through administrative wage garnishment. Before the
court is defendant's motion for summary judgment and motion to
dismiss [doc. no. 3]. Defendant argues that it is entitled to
summary judgment because the agency decision was in accordance
with the law and was not arbitrary and capricious. Defendant also
argues that plaintiff has failed to state a claim for three new
claims that plaintiff did not raise before the administrative
For the reasons set forth below, defendant's motions will be
granted. I. BACKGROUND
Unless otherwise indicated, the following facts are undisputed.
Between 1978 and 1980, while attending Cornell University,
plaintiff signed several applications and promissory notes for
student loans totaling $12,860.00. See Administrative Record
("AR") at 0000030-0000032; Complaint ¶¶ 5&6. Plaintiff admits to
making timely repayments until August 1983 when she ran into
financial difficulties. Complaint ¶ 7. Plaintiff claims to have
unsuccessfully worked with defendant in an attempt to compromise
on the amount owed. In 1992 she told the agency to sue her "so
there could be a fair and competent determination of what
collection costs should be considered necessary and reasonable."
Id. at ¶ 9. In 1995, the guaranty agency transferred its loans
to defendant. Id. at ¶ 10. At that time, the principal balance
was $12,851.90. Id. Upon receipt of defendant's Notice of
Proposed Wage Garnishment, plaintiff made a timely Request for
At her agency hearing, plaintiff objected to the garnishment of
her wages because (a) she did not borrow the total amount
claimed; (b) the debt is not an enforceable debt; and (c)
withholding 15 percent of plaintiff's disposable pay would cause
a financial hardship. AR at 000002-000003. Defendant determined
that plaintiff's debt was legitimate and legally enforceable, and
that according to their records, plaintiff owed $12,851.90 in principal, accrued interest of $7,823.58, and unpaid collection
costs or fees of $5,168.87, for a total of $25,844.35. Id. at
A. Legal Standard for Summary Judgment
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 (c) provides that summary judgment may be
granted if, drawing all inferences in favor of the non-moving
party, "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories
and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any,
show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and
that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of
The mere existence of some factual dispute between the parties
will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for
summary judgment. A dispute over those facts that might affect
the outcome of the suit under the governing substantive law, i.e.
the material facts, however, will preclude the entry of summary
judgment. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
(1986). Similarly, summary judgment is improper so long as the
dispute over the material facts is genuine. Id. In determining
whether the dispute is genuine, the court's function is not to
weigh the evidence or to determine the truth of the matter, but
only to determine whether the evidence of record is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for
the nonmoving party. Id. at 248-49.
In summary, the inquiry under a Rule 56 motion is whether the
evidence of record presents a genuine dispute over material facts
so as to require submission of the matter to a jury for
resolution of that factual dispute or whether the evidence is so
one-sided that the movant must prevail as a matter of law.
B. The Scope of Judicial Review of an Agency Decision
Here, the court must view the Rule 56 summary judgment standard
in conjunction with the appropriate scope of judicial review of
an administrative agency. "A district court's review of an
administrative decision is usually limited to determining whether
the agency action is arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of
discretion, or otherwise not in accord with law." United States
v. Bean, 537 U.S. 71, 77 (2002) (quoting 5 U.S.C. § 706(2)(A)).
This standard "presumes that agency decisions are valid as long
as the decision is supported by a rational basis." Pozzie v.
United States Dep't of Hous. and Urban Dev., 48 F.3d 1026, 1029
(7th Cir. 1995); Gorka v. United Stated Dep't of Educ., No. 02
C 5449, 2004 WL 2658071 *3 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 13, 2004). "Courts
reviewing administrative decisions are only to determine whether
the decision was based on `relevant factors,' and whether the
agency made a `clear error in judgment.'" Gorka, 2004 WL
2658071 at *3 (quoting Pozzie, 48 F.3d at 1029). The district court is
not permitted to substitute its judgment for that of the agency.
Bowman Transp., Inc. v. Arkansas Best Freight Sys., Inc.,
419 U.S. 281, 285 (1974). Thus, a district court may only set aside
an agency decision if the decision falls outside the scope of the
agency's lawful authority, or is not "logical and rational."
Allentown Mack Sales & Serv. v. NLRB, 522 U.S. 359, 374 (1998).
A. Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment on the ...