“Literally 160,000-plus people cannot move on with their life because of this non- decision by Betsy DeVos,” said Alicia Davis, a plaintiff in the suit.
More than 158,000 former students at predatory for-profit colleges sued Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and her department on Tuesday, demanding that the Department of Education continue reviewing applications for federal loan relief.
The former students had applied for “borrower defense,” which would allow them to have their federal loans canceled if their college misled them or violated state laws. But their applications have been left untouched. Since June 2018, the Department of Education has neither granted nor denied the “borrower defense” application of any plaintiff, according to the complaint ― leaving the former students waiting and in debt. (The department did not respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit.)
The plaintiffs now hope the lawsuit will give them a second chance. They are represented by the Project on Predatory Student Lending at Harvard’s Legal Services and Housing & Economic Rights Advocates (HERA). For-profit colleges implicated in the suit include the ITT Technical Institute, Corinthian Colleges, DeVry University and Brooks Institute of Photography.
Alicia Davis, a former student at Florida Metropolitan University, now called Everest University, said she and the other plaintiffs “have been pretty much scammed and defrauded and ruined when trying to go and do something with ourselves and better ourselves.”
“Literally 160,000-plus people cannot move on with their life because of this non-decision by Besty DeVos,” she added later.
Davis worked as a bartender for a few years after high school until her early 20s, when she decided on the career she wanted to pursue: crime scene investigation. She saw an ad on television for Florida Metropolitan University, which boasted of its online degree in criminal justice. So she emailed them and heard back from a “counselor” there, who sold her on the school.
The woman highlighted that the program was online and claimed that a bachelor’s degree was necessary for crime scene investigation careers — both were selling points for Davis. The woman said her credits could be transferred if she decided to pursue an education elsewhere.
The counselor never told Davis how much the program would actually cost. Instead, according to Davis, the counselor said she would qualify for scholarships and that anything that wasn’t covered with financial aid would be covered with grants and scholarships within the college.
Davis was convinced, and she enrolled at FMU in 2006 to pursue a degree in criminal justice. She didn’t know that the school was taking out loans on her behalf ― loans that she didn’t learn about until 10 years later.
After Davis tried to transfer to a community college and apply for financial aid, she had to switch schools because FMU “ghosted” her in 2008 ― no longer contacting her about the program or replying to messages. At that time, FMU was bought by Corinthian, and Davis could no longer log into its online campus. Everest is now run by Zenith Education Group — Corinthian was shut down in 2015. Zenith Education Group did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the allegations.
“Not a single credit transferred” to the community college. She wound up taking out even more student loans. After earning a master’s at the University of Central Florida, Davis was about $100,000 in debt.
For the full article click here: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/betsy-devos-suit-for-profit-schools-loans_n_5d128d43e4b0aa375f54e243
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