Student Borrowers and Advocates Declare September as Borrower Defense Action Month | Press Release
September 9, 2021
Defrauded for-profit college students are encouraged to file borrower defense applications to assert their right to debt cancellation
BOSTON – The Project on Predatory Student Lending today joined advocates and former for-profit college students to declare September as Borrower Defense Action Month. Former students and advocates are encouraging those who attended a predatory for-profit college and were defrauded to file a Borrower Defense to Repayment, asking the U.S. Department of Education to cancel their fraudulent loans.
Only a few hundred thousand people have ever submitted a borrower defense application. But there are hundreds of thousands more borrowers who attended now-defunct schools that were notorious for fraud. ITT alone enrolled 700,000 individuals. Many are not aware that they are legally entitled to loan cancellation through borrower defense, or haven’t applied because they do not trust the process.
“September marks a time of opportunity for many students across the country, but for hundreds of thousands of students who were ripped off by predatory for-profit colleges and left with insurmountable debt, it marks another passing year that they have been kept from the relief and justice they are legally owed,” said Eileen Connor, Director of the Project on Predatory Student Lending. “With Borrower Defense Action Month, we want to make sure these borrowers are aware that they have legal rights and there is a path toward justice – and it starts with submitting a borrower defense application.”
Watch this short video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4TuzNOtb33w
Borrowers who are interested in applying for borrower defense can do so here: https://studentaid.gov/borrower-defense/
“Everest Institute robbed me of my education. I was 19 with a one-year-old child when they scammed me into believing their program would give me and my son the chance for a better future. My son is in high school now,” said Amanda Kulka, a former Everest student whose loans were recently cancelled through borrower defense as a result of the Project’s victory in the lawsuit Vara v Cardona. “For so long this debt has been hanging over me and to finally have that burden lifted will make such a big difference in our life. I hope every person cheated by their school gets that opportunity.”
Although student borrowers have taken the Department of Education to court for its refusal to have a fair borrower defense process, the Biden-Harris administration has slowly begun granting limited discharges to select groups of borrowers, including those from ITT and Corinthian Colleges. So far, the Department has cancelled $1.5 billion dollars of loans through borrower defense. But we know this is the tip of the iceberg. For example, ITT created over $4 billion in federal student loan debt in the last decade of its existence. By encouraging more people to apply, borrowers and advocates hope to demonstrate the scale of the problem with predatory colleges and the need for the federal government to hold these schools accountable and act urgently on borrower defense.
“It has been a long hard fight, but we are finally winning justice for people who have filed borrower defense. But so far the only people who are getting their debts discharged are people who filed, so it is important for everyone who was defrauded by their school to file a borrower defense,” said Thomas Gokey, organizer with the Debt Collective. “There are millions of students who attended schools like Everest, ITT, Art Institute and other predatory for-profit colleges. You can file for free directly through the Department of Education. It’s time to act now to assert your right to cancellation.”
About the Project on Predatory Student Lending
Established in 2012, the Project on Predatory Student Lending represents former students of predatory for-profit colleges. Its mission is to litigate to make it legally and financially impossible for federally-funded predatory schools to cheat students. The Project has brought a wide variety of cases on behalf of former students of for-profit colleges. It has sued the federal Department of Education for its failures to meet its legal obligation to police this industry and stop the perpetration and collection of fraudulent student loan debt.