The Department of Education is forgiving about $150 million in student debt belonging to some 15,000 borrowers, around half of them former attendees of the for-profit Corinthian Colleges chain, which went bankrupt in 2015. The agency announced the loan cancellation Thursday in response to a federal court order and began notifying affected students by email Friday.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos had sought to avoid implementing a set of Obama-era "borrower defense" regulations, among them an option of loan discharges for students whose schools have closed. But a federal judge ruled against her plan in September and also rejected a similar push by for-profit colleges in October.
The loan forgiveness process could take up to three months to complete, but affected borrowers do not have to take any action to benefit. Any payments made on the discharged loans will be applied to other debt on the student's account or returned to the payer, the Education Department announcement notes, and "information related to a discharged loan and its payment history [will be] removed from the borrower's credit report." Bonnie Kristian
The U.S. Department of Education will forgive $171 million of debt owed by more than 11,000 former students of the for-profit school Corinthian Colleges Inc., which declared bankruptcy in 2015.
The government is forgiving the loans under a federal law known as the "borrower defense," the Los Angeles Times reports, which relieves the debt of people able to prove they've been defrauded. The now-defunct Corinthian ran several colleges, including Heald, Everest, and WyoTech, which had high tuition rates and few admission requirements. In March, a judge in San Francisco County found that Corinthian made false or misleading statements about job placement rates for graduates, and the company was ordered to pay $820 million to students. When it claimed bankruptcy, Corinthian claimed to have $143 million in liabilities and only $19 million in assets.
The government is only looking at claims of students who took out loans in 2010 or later, and the average amount of debt relief per student is $15,280, the Times reports. Since 2010, nearly 350,000 Corinthian students have taken out about $3.5 billion in federal loans. Former student Tasha Rincon, 34, told the Times she owes more than $46,000 in loans for classes she took at an Everest campus in Ontario, California. She said she studied to become a probation officer, and was told by Corinthian that 93 percent of students in the program would get well-paying jobs. She could only find a minimum wage job as a security guard, and now works three hours a day serving lunch at a high school. Catherine Garcia