Student Stories

Understanding the human impact of for-profit colleges

Student Voices

Paul Cruz

ITT Tech

In 2016, ITT Tech collapsed, shuttering its 130 campuses across the country. ITT Tech had faced years of lawsuits and government investigations over allegations of predatory lending, deceptive marketing, high-pressure recruitment practices, and consumer fraud. Watch the video to listen to Paul's ITT story.

David Mayfield

ITT Tech

In 2016, ITT Tech collapsed, shuttering its 130 campuses across the country. ITT Tech had faced years of lawsuits and government investigations over allegations of predatory lending, deceptive marketing, high-pressure recruitment practices, and consumer fraud. Watch the video to listen to David's ITT story.

Amanda Coats

Sanford-Brown

Sanford-Brown began shutting down it's last campuses and stopped enrolling new students in 2015. In 2019, Sanford-Brown’s parent company, Career Education Corporation, settled a lawsuit with 49 State Attorneys General, agreeing to discharge $500 million in private student loans for 180,000 students who attended their schools. The lawsuit alleged deceptive and predatory recruitment practices and misrepresentations regarding its tuition costs, job placement rates, and accreditation. Watch the video to listen to Amanda's Sanford-Brown story.

Nicole Schiliro

Art Institute

In 2015, The Art Institute’s parent company, Education Management Corporation, agreed to pay $200 million to settle two lawsuits by company whistleblowers and 39 State Attorneys General over allegations of predatory recruitment practices, as well as misrepresentations regarding its job placement rates and accreditation. Watch the video to listen to Nicole's Art Institute story.

Dakota Drahn

Heald College

In 2015, Heald Colleges’s parent company, Corinthian Colleges, filed for bankruptcy and shut down. The company faced dozens of ongoing lawsuits and government investigations into predatory practices, including misleading and false job placement rates, predatory lending, and high-pressure recruitment practices. Watch the video to listen to Dakota's Heald College story.

Alicia Davis

FMU (Everest University)

In 2015, Everest University’s parent company, Corinthian Colleges, filed for bankruptcy and shut down. The company faced dozens of ongoing lawsuits and government investigations into predatory practices, including misleading and false job placement rates, predatory lending, and high-pressure recruitment practices. Watch the video to listen to Alicia's Everest University story.

Kathy Morgan

Everest University

In 2015, Everest University’s parent company, Corinthian Colleges, filed for bankruptcy and shut down. The company faced dozens of ongoing lawsuits and government investigations into predatory practices, including misleading and false job placement rates, predatory lending, and high-pressure recruitment practices. Watch the video to listen to Kathy's Everest University story.

Sergio Solorza

ITT Tech

During a Negotiated Rulemaking session, Sergio shared his experienced being deceived about career prospects by the University of Phoenix and left with unpayable debts in retirement.

"The Department of Education has an opportunity to right the wrong this school has done to me and the thousands of students like me. We’ve all suffered at the hands of this fake college and it’s not right."

Watch the video to listen to Sergio's ITT story.

The Real Heroes of NegReg

Between October 4 to October 8, the Department of Education held their second Negotiation Rulemaking, or NegReg, session of the year. NegReg is a process in which stakeholders—including students, institutional representatives, and state and nonprofit enforcement agencies—collaborate with the Department on how to improve policies that impact students. This year, the broken borrower defense process is one of the top areas of discussion and for-profit college students ready to share their stories.

Read more.

I want the Department of Education to understand that we were promised the world and were handed dirt. I wanted to be a productive member of society. I wanted a 401(k), I wanted a career. Instead, I got a bogus degree and a bunch of debt. I was trying to lift myself up by the bootstrap, but I got cement shoes instead, and I’ve been drowning ever since. It’s not fair. I’m not the only person dealing with this issue. There are so many of us out there, and I don’t know how that’s not enough to make people realize that something needs to be done.

Borrowers' Student Loan Truth

How Long Would You Wait to Get Your Life Back?

“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 severely negatively impacted. My mom is getting harassed by debt collectors threatening to garnish her wages and close her bank account."

For-Profit Colleges Aren’t Just Out to Scam Students. They’re Scamming Their Parents, Too.

"I’ll never see an end to this loan. People don’t know how this impacts parents. You can’t just stop in the middle of paying it. You start sinking and by the time you realize it’s not turning out like you hoped, there’s no way to stop. What do you do? Who do we turn to? These for-profit schools prey and play on our love for our children. People need to know that this is devastating.”

“We’re Not Taking This Lying Down”

"I don’t think a lot of people realize the impact money can have on every aspect of your health – mental health, physical health. When I look at that debt number, it’s incomprehensible. My kids deserve better, and I want them to have that opportunity and go to college, and this would give them a chance to not carry this tremendous debt."

Amanda’s Everest Institute Story

“A lot of people worked hard, graduated at the top of their class, and were still left in this spot. We were cheated. It destroys your faith in the government and in our system of education and I think it’s important to stand up to that.”

Brandon Hurshman and Melissa Arroyo’s Art Institute Story

"Education shouldn’t be a business. It should be training to help build a life. It should be a chance to grow...We’re working hard everyday and burning out trying to keep our heads above water. We’re succeeding despite our experiences at this school, not because of it."

Ollie’s New England Institute of Art Story

"I would want them to understand that we were promised the world and were handed dirt. I wanted to be a productive member of society. I wanted a 401(k), I wanted a career. Instead, I got a bogus degree and a bunch of debt. I was trying to lift myself up by the bootstrap, but I got cement shoes instead, and I’ve been drowning ever since."

"I believe the work that is being done by the Project on Predatory Student Lending has helped bring light to a very dark corner of our education system. On a more personal level, the Project has given me the courage to speak about this issue. There can be a lot of fear and shame associated with being victims of education fraud. But the Project’s work has helped show me, and millions of other students who were cheated, that there is nothing to be ashamed of and that if we speak up and stand together we can make a difference.”

Clients in the News

Student Loan Borrowers Perplexed by Biden Administration’s Continued Defense of Trump-Era Lawsuits | Washington Post

Amanda Kulka expected her six-year fight for student loan cancellation would be over by now. Powerful allies, including a state attorney general and a federal judge, agreed that she and other students in Massachusetts had been defrauded by the defunct for-profit chain Corinthian Colleges. The courts even granted all 7,200 of them a full discharge of their debt in June, rebuking former education secretary Betsy DeVos’s attempt to block their request for relief.

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A DeVos System Allowed 12 Minutes to Decide Student Loan Forgiveness | New York Times

Former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos made no secret of her disdain for a program intended to forgive the federal student loans of borrowers who were ripped off by schools that defrauded their students. She called it a “free money” giveaway, let hundreds of thousands of claims languish for years, and slashed the amount of relief granted to some successful applicants to $0.

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Turning to Courts for Loan Forgiveness | Inside Higher Ed

Earlier this year, Sarah Dieffenbacher closed the book on a two-year legal fight with the U.S. Department of Education over her student loan debt. But the resolution was unsatisfying to Dieffenbacher. Instead of getting a ruling on the loan-forgiveness claim she filed for debt racked up at the former Everest College, the department discharged her loans through bankruptcy court.

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Learn more about this industry

For decades, the predatory for-profit college industry has exploited the promise of higher education, at the expense of students who are trying to build a better life. The industry specifically targets low-income students, people of color, single parents, and veterans.

Learn more about Borrower Defense

The law is clear: students who were cheated or misled by their colleges are entitled to have their federal student loans cancelled through a process called Borrower Defense to Repayment. But too many borrowers don’t know about it.