Villalba v. Navient

Overview

Who is involved in this case?

Former ITT student Jorge Villalba and his mother, Alicia Villalba, filed this lawsuit against Navient (formerly Sallie Mae), holder of Jorge and Alicia’s private student loan debt from ITT.

Jorge is also one of the named plaintiffs in the ITT bankruptcy case, which in 2019 helped cancel over $500 million of student debts owed to ITT. You can read about Jorge’s experience at ITT on our blog here.

Jorge and Alicia are represented by the Project on Predatory Student Lending and Jeremy S. Golden, of Golden and Cardona-Loya LLP.

 

What is this case about?

Jorge Villalba attended ITT in 2006. ITT took over $50,000 in federal student loans and over $43,000 in private student loans from Jorge, with his mother co-signing some of the private loans. The Villalbas incurred this debt for a bogus education. ITT used deceptive recruiting tactics and lies to get him to enroll and misrepresented employment prospects. In 2017, the government cancelled Jorge’s federal student loans as a result of the school’s misconduct through the borrower defense to repayment process.

When presented with evidence of ITT’s fraud and the federal debt cancellation, Navient not only rejected Villalba’s efforts to seek private loan cancellation, it denied that he had any right to seek cancellation of his loan based on ITT’s fraud – even though the right to seek that process is stated in the student loan contract. It has also continued to aggressively collect on the Villalbas’ loans.

 

Where and when was this case filed?

This case was filed on September 10, 2020, in Los Angeles at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse.

“Regardless of the type of loan, it was still fraud. Everything about ITT was a lie. And those lies didn’t just affect me, it has affected my entire family. Even with the federal loans cancelled, my credit has been severally negatively impacted. My mom is getting harassed by debt collectors threatening to garnish her wages and close her bank account. This lawsuit is the only way I can do something about it, for my mom and hopefully for countless others who are in this horrible situation.”

“It was always Jorge’s dream to study and have a career, but with ITT, all the jobs and promises were not real. Jorge is stuck with a degree that he cannot use and he did not receive any benefit by going to ITT, meanwhile, he has to deal with these loans that have affected us all. The credit I worked really hard to get is completely ruined. I cannot even get a credit card of my own, my husband has to have all the finances in his name. It is a lot of stress and worry for the whole family.”

- Alicia Villalba

Why This Case?

Navient (previously Sallie Mae) has benefitted and profited from the predatory for-profit college system for decades, making subprime private student loans to hundreds of thousands of students like Jorge Villalba and his mother. These private loan companies had mutually beneficially relationships with predatory for-profit schools and were an integral part of a broader system that scammed students and left them in debt they could not repay. For example, for-profit colleges relied on private lenders for their schemes, using them to meet the minimum 10% of revenue required to come from funding outside of federal loans. ITT was one of the most notorious offenders.

Despite extensive evidence of illegal behavior, the Department of Education, as well as private lenders like Navient, continue to collect on the student loans that funded ITT’s fraud. These loans are clearly invalid and must be cancelled.

Case Updates

A Reckoning with Private Loan Cancellation: Jorge Villalba’s Quest for Full Loan Cancellation | Blog

Jorge Villalba was one of tens of thousands of students scammed by ITT and was left with a worthless degree and insurmountable debt in the form of both federal and private student loans.  Now, after getting his federal loans discharged, he’s fighting to get his private loans cancelled too.

ITT Student Files New Lawsuit Against Navient for Private Student Debt Cancellation | Press Release

Even after the Department of Education deemed Jorge Villalba’s federal student loans invalid and cancelled them due to ITT’s fraud, Navient not only continues to collect on his private loans, the lender misled him about the existence of a path to private debt cancellation

What Really Happened at ITT: Jorge Villalba in His Own Words | Blog

This month we interviewed Jorge Villalba, a former ITT Tech student and named plaintiff in the Project’s ITT case.  After being cheated by ITT and struggling with massive debt from the school for years, Jorge finally had his loans discharged.

Case Documents

Complaint

Plaintiffs Jorge Villalba and Alicia Villalba filed a complaint against Navient.

Coverage

Lawsuit Against Student Loan Giant Navient Will Test Limits of Private Debt Discharge | Yahoo Finance

A former student at the now-defunct ITT Technical Institute and his mother are suing student loan giant Navient (NAVI) over the company’s refusal to cancel his private student loans despite the U.S. government erasing thousands of federal student loans related to the notorious for-profit school. The case could set a precedent for defrauded borrowers seeking relief from privately-held loans (as opposed to federally-backed loans).

Read More

Scammed Student Sues Navient, Asking for Cancellation of Debt he Took on to Attend For-Profit College | MarketWatch

For roughly a decade, Jorge Villalba has been contending with student debt that he believes — and the government has confirmed — he was illegally misled into borrowing. Villalba, 39, attended ITT Technical Institutes, a major for-profit college chain, from 2006 to 2010. Just six years after he graduated, ITT filed for bankruptcy, amid allegations the school used misleading job placement and graduation rates to convince students to sign up for classes and take on the loans that would pay for them.

Read More

Former ITT Student Sues Navient For Student Loan Forgiveness | Forbes

Today, a new lawsuit was filed against Navient, the student loan servicer formerly known as Sallie Mae. The suit was filed by the Project on Predatory Student Lending at Harvard Law School on behalf of Jorge and Alicia Villalba.

Read More