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.” 

Jorge Villalba

“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

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

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.

ITT Students’ $1.5 Billion Settlement Heard by Judge In Bankruptcy Settlement Today | Press Release

More than $500 Million In Student Debts Would Be Cancelled Due To ITT’s Fraudulent Actions; Landmark Settlement Builds Case For Department Of Education To Cancel Loans of Former ITT Students

See All Case Updates

Case Documents

Complaint

On September 10, 2020 plaintiffs Jorge Villalba and Alicia Villalba filed a complaint against Navient.

Coverage

Top ITT Executives Agree to Fines, Ban From Top Corporate Jobs in SEC Settlement | Indy Star

The top executives of the defunct Carmel company that operated ITT Technical Institute have settled fraud charges with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Former CEO Kevin Modany will pay $200,000 and former Chief Financial Officer Daniel Fitzpatrick will pay $100,000 to resolve allegations that they concealed ITT Educational Services’ worsening financial condition from investors in the years leading up to the company’s collapse.

Read More

Former Students of Defunct ITT Tech Receive $95.1 Million Loan Relief | Wall Street Journal

WASHINGTON—The Education Department is providing loan relief to some 7,800 former students of the ITT Technical Institute, with debts totaling $95.1 million being forgiven by the government years after the giant for-profit school chain closed. The department said that it has identified 7,878 former students of ITT Tech as eligible for a program in which loans are discharged automatically within three years of a school closure. Of those borrowers who attended the school, 7,697 had received loan forgiveness as of Jan. 3.

Read More

Students Cry for Debt Relief After For-Profit College Collapse, While Executives Admit No Wrongdoing | Market Watch

As a young high school graduate, Joseph Schettler had dreams of working for the FBI or becoming a forensic psychologist. He took steps to make those dreams a reality. Schettler became the first person in his family to go to college, enrolling in the criminal justice program at ITT Tech in 2006 with assurances from the school that he would surely get a job in his field.

Read More

See All Coverage