Colon v. DeVos

Case Outcome

As the result of the second complaint filed in July 2019, the Department of Education adjusted the federal student loans for Tina Carr and Yvette Colon to zero dollars. While the Department did not acknowledge that Ms. Carr and Ms. Colon’s debt from Sanford Brown is not valid, Ms. Carr and Ms. Colon no longer have the burden of the illegal federal student loan debt from Sanford Brown.


Who is involved in this case?

The Project on Predatory Student Lending and the New York Legal Assistance Group represent Tina Carr and Yvette Colon against the Department of Education and Navient, a loan servicer. Ms. Carr and Ms. Colon are former students of Sanford-Brown Institute, a predatory for-profit college owned by Career Education Corporation.


What is this case about?

In March 2015, Ms. Carr and Ms. Colon submitted Defense to Repayment applications to the Department of Education and Navient, invoking their right to cancellation of their federal student loans based on Sanford-Brown’s deceit and misconduct.

Despite Ms. Carr and Ms. Colon’s clear legal entitlement to loan cancellation due to the school’s fraud, the Department and Navient have refused to consider their defenses, leaving Ms. Carr and Ms. Colon to struggle—along with tens of thousands of other borrowers whose defenses the Department has ignored—with burdensome and insurmountable student loan debt. The Project brought this case to court to fight for the debt cancellation to which Ms. Carr and Ms. Colon are legally entitled.


 Where and when was this case filed?

This case was filed in federal court in the southern district of New York on November 12, 2017. A second compliant was filed on July 16, 2019.

“Everything that the school promised, turned out to be false... Sanford-Brown Institute has left me and many other students with mountains of debt and no career path to dig ourselves out. Making this worse is that our own government has failed to step in to protect and help students.”

- Yvette Colon, lead plaintiff in Colon v. DeVos

Why this case?

Sanford-Brown (SBI), owned by Career Education Corporation (CEC), engaged in outright deception to induce Tina Carr and Yvette Colon to enroll in its vocational programs for medical jobs. The school lacked the necessary accreditation and did not provide adequate training. Sanford-Brown also lied about its dismal track record in preparing students for medical vocations.

Ms. Colon and Ms. Carr are not alone in having been defrauded by SBI. The Office of the Attorney General of the State of New York (“OAG”) pursued CEC for these deceptions, and found that CEC systematically cheated students like Ms. Carr and Ms. Colon. Although Sanford-Brown representatives cited job placement statistics to Ms. Carr of 80%, the OAG found that the actual placement rate was only 26.1%. Further, the OAG found widespread deception concerning programmatic accreditation, and broad failure to disclose that graduates generally could not transfer credits to legitimate schools. The OAG concluded that these practices violated New York’s consumer protection statutes. And yet, the Department continues to force Ms. Colon, Ms. Carr, and their fellow CEC students to suffer their debts without even considering the valid reasons that make those loans unenforceable.

Case Updates

Update | Former For-Profit College Students Ask Federal Court to Void Student Loan Debt

Yesterday, Tina Carr and Yvette Colon, two former defrauded students of the for-profit Sanford-Brown Institute in New York, sued the Department of Education (Department) and Navient to block the enforcement of their student loan debt. They sued because of the Department’s failure to act on thousands of borrower defense applications by former students whose debts it has…

Case Documents

Stipulation and Order of Voluntary Dismissal

Both parties agreed to dismiss the case.


Plaintiffs Tina Carr and Yvette Colon filed a complaint against the Department of Education.

Amended Complaint

Plaintiffs Tina Carr and Yvette Colon filed an Amended Complaint.


Student Who Took on ‘Crushing’ Debt Angry After Betsy DeVos Scales Back Investigations of For-Profit Colleges | Time

Yvette Colon took out more than $35,000 in student loans and spent two years at a for-profit college to get a certificate that she says is worthless. Now, she fears even more students could fall into a similar trap after Education Secretary Betsy DeVos reportedly crippled the office charged with investigating the company behind Colon’s now-defunct college, Career Education Corporation, and several other for-profit institutions.

Read More

For-Profit Colleges Struggle Despite Assist From DeVos | The Chicago Tribune

The for-profit college industry is struggling under the weight of declining enrollment, stiff competition from traditional universities and an image battered by past misdeeds, even as the Trump administration tries to offer a helping hand.

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Students Defrauded by For-Profit School Sue US Department of Education | Huffington Post

Tina Carr and Yvette Colon had the same goal. They wanted to build careers in the medical field, make a good living and enjoy a better quality of life. They both knew that the gateway to a brighter future would be to attend a good school …Sanford-Brown Institute convinced them they had found their dream school, but instead plunged them into a nightmare that isn’t over yet.

Read More