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Can My Student Loans Be Forgiven if my College Misled Me?

By Alex Sirek | Last updated on

College can offer students a variety of career prospects, opportunities for growth, and a future of lifelong learning ... if the institution keeps its promises.

It might seem easy enough to write off misleading claims by a university with a "that's life, kid." But the cost of a college education is skyrocketing, and children are taking on tens of thousands of dollars in debts to sometimes not even finish a degree.

We've written before about how difficult it is to discharge student loan debts in bankruptcy. But there may be an option for some victims of educational manipulation if they qualify for Borrower Defense to Repayment.

What Is Borrower Defense to Repayment?

Borrower Defense is an under-discussed program that can discharge some or all federal student loan debt if a school misled students or violated state laws.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, most people who qualify are those who fall victim to a university's misrepresentations during recruitment efforts. This can include lies, exaggerations, or misrepresentations about the school's

  • Selectivity and competitiveness in admissions
  • Rankings in publications
  • Job placements and earnings for graduates
  • Credits being accepted at other colleges and universities

This program may sound like a dream to those who have been unfairly treated by their college, but the Borrower Defense program has not gone without controversy.

The Program's Failings

Since being enacted in 2016, the Borrower Defense program has faced its fair share of troubles.

With thousands of applicants having to wait years for the Education Department to process their requests, and many being wrongfully denied loan forgiveness, it's plain to see that this program is not a perfect solution.

However, a newly settled agreement would assure coverage for some students whose applications were mishandled.

The Settlement

It was announced recently that the Department of Education and a class of student loan borrowers reached a settlement after years of dealing with the effects of schools that misled them.

Sweet v. Cardona (formerly known as Sweet v. DeVos), a lawsuit defending students' rights to discharge their federal student loans due to their for-profit school's misconduct, filed a proposed settlement agreement that has the potential to help over 200,000 student loan borrowers.

This settlement applies to individuals who took out federal loans and had a Borrower Defense application pending as of June 22, 2022.

Borrowers who attended specific schools will receive loan discharge, refunds, and credit report adjustments automatically. Borrowers who attended unlisted schools will receive a decision before a set deadline.

Any and all denial notices issued between December 2019 and October 2020 will be rescinded by the Department of Education.

Individuals who could benefit from this settlement, also called case members, do not need to do anything to join if they properly fit the description.

Case members are people who:

  • On or before June 22, 2022, submitted a borrower defense application about any school and have either not gotten a decision, or received a denial after December 2019.
  • Are not members of the lawsuit Calvillo Manriquez v. DeVos. Members of this case are only specific borrowers who attended Corinthian, Heald, Everest, and Wyotech schools.

Who Should Apply For The Borrower Defense Program?

Anyone who borrowed federal loans to attend a school that they believe misled them or broke the law regarding educational services or loans should apply for the Borrower Defense to Repayment loan discharge program.

It only takes about 30 minutes to fill out an application. So, if you're curious or think you could benefit from the program, the borrowers in the lawsuit set up a website with all the information you'll need to learn before applying!

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