Attorney General Becerra Demands Information from Department of Education on Relief Owed to Students Defrauded by ITT Tech
SACRAMENTO — California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, as part of a bipartisan coalition of 22 attorneys general, today sent a letter requesting information from the Department of Education (Department) on the status of student loan relief for former students of the now-closed ITT Tech schools. ITT Tech abruptly closed in 2016, leaving students worse off than when they enrolled – stuck with debt and no diploma. Under federal law, the Department is required to automatically discharge the federal student loans of borrowers, like the former ITT Tech students, whose schools closed and who did not continue their education elsewhere. However, as of May 16, 2019, out of the more than 52,000 former ITT Tech students eligible for borrower relief, reportedly only a small fraction had received a discharge.
“Secretary DeVos has an abysmal record when it comes to providing students with the help they need,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Today we are demanding answers. Secretary DeVos and the Department of Education must review and approve relief for students defrauded by ITT Tech.”
In the letter, the attorneys general ask the Department to provide states with:
- Clarification on whether all eligible ITT Tech students are now receiving the automatic discharges to which they are entitled;
- Sufficient information to confirm that deserving ITT Tech students have not been excluded from the program;
- Details about the Department’s decision-making process on whether the Department would extend the student eligibility period past 120 days before ITT Tech’s closure; and
- Data on the number of ITT Tech borrowers who filed for, were granted, were denied, or were determined ineligible for closed-school discharges.
The coalition urges the Department to be transparent with borrowers about the discharge process and to provide borrowers determined ineligible with prompt explanation regarding their eligibility determinations. Furthermore, the attorneys general request the Department give borrowers information regarding what portion of their loans are being discharged and provide the borrower with sufficient reasoning if the borrower did not receive full relief.
Attorney General Becerra joined with the attorneys general of Massachusetts, Kentucky, Oregon, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington in sending the letter.
A copy of the letter can be found here.
Attorney General Becerra has been steadfast in protecting students and their right to student loan relief. In December 2017, the office filed a lawsuit against the Department and Secretary DeVos, for refusing to process debt relief claims submitted by tens of thousands of students who took out federal student loans to attend Corinthian Colleges, Inc. (Corinthian). Students became eligible to apply for this relief after the courts found that Corinthian defrauded these students in violation of California consumer protection laws. In addition, on June 2018, Attorney General Becerra secured $67 million in relief for these students in a settlement with Balboa Student Loan Trust. Attorney General Becerra successfully defended the Borrower Defense rule in a multistate lawsuit, securing a district court order in October 2018 ruling that the Department’s attempt to delay the rule was unlawful. In October 2019, Attorney General Becerra called on Department of Education Secretary DeVos to fully discharge student loan borrowers who were defrauded by schools operated by Dream Center Education Holding LLC (The Dream Center). In May 2019, Attorney General Becerra urged the Department to discharge the student loans of tens of thousands of veterans who were disabled as part of their service. Attorney General Becerra has also filed multiple lawsuits to hold accountable for-profit schools and student loan servicers. In 2017, Attorney General Becerra sued Ashford University, another for-profit school, and its parent company Bridgepoint Education for unlawful activity against its students; that lawsuit is pending in San Diego Superior Court. In 2018, he sued Navient Corporation and its subsidiaries, Pioneer and General Revenue Corporation, for misconduct in the servicing and collection of federal student loans.