Showing posts with label student loan forgiveness. Show all posts
Showing posts with label student loan forgiveness. Show all posts

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Student-loan debtors beware: Congressman Tom Garrett wants your Social Security check

Congress must think Americans are fools, and perhaps we are.

Earlier this month, the Republicans rammed through their so-called "tax reform" bill that will give middle-class families about ten bucks a week in tax relief. Meanwhile, Congress left the notorious carried interest rule in place--the rule that allows hedge fund managers to pay federal taxes at a lower rate than their secretaries.

If Americans are stupid enough to swallow the tax-reform caper, maybe they can be swindled out of their Social Security earnings. Representative Tom Garrett, a Republican congressman from Virginia, thinks its worth a try. Garrett has introduced a bill he calls the Student Security Act, whereby college borrowers can surrender some of their Social Security earnings in return for student-loan forgiveness.

Here's how it works, in Congressman Garrett's own words:
For every $550 in student loan forgiveness . . . a Student Security participant would agree to raise his or her full-retirement age for Social Security benefits by one month. A student could get a maximum of $40,150 in debt relief. To get that, the person would delay the starting age for collecting Social Security benefits by 6 years and one month.
Most people need their Social Security income in order to retire, so essentially Representative Garrett is asking people to postpone their retirement by six years in return for some student-loan debt relief.

Of course the whole premise of the federal student loan program is the notion that a college degree is the ticket to a middle-class lifestyle and that borrowing money to get a college education is a good investment. Obviously, that premise is false for millions of people, including people who would postpone their retirement by six years just to get clear of their student loans.

Congressman Tom Garrett wants your Social Security check.

References

Tom Garrett. Let's allow our kids to use some of their future Social Security earnings to pay off their student loans. foxnews.com, December 29, 2017. 

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Pam Hunt, debt striker, begs Obama to forgive all student loan debt of former Corinthian Colleges students: Let's hope the President responds

When Barack Obama steps down from the presidency next month, he will leave a huge mess behind for the next president to clean up. 43 million Americans hold student loans, and almost half of them can't pay them back.

Most desperate among the victims are the hapless souls who attended for-profit colleges. Many were enticed to enroll by high-pressure and even fraudulent recruiting tactics. Most paid far too much for their educational experiences, and few obtained jobs that paid well enough to justify their educational investments.

Under pressure from state and federal regulators, some for-profit colleges are closing and filing for bankruptcy. Corinthian Colleges, with 350,000 former students, filed for bankruptcy last year. ITT Tech filed for bankruptcy a few months ago, and Dade Medical College filed a bankruptcy-type action in Florida after it closed under allegations of corruption. Global University lost all federal funding earlier this month and will likely close.

Unfortunately, most of the students who attended these ne'er-do-well colleges are still liable on their student loans.  The federal government has processes in place for students to obtain loan forgiveness if they can show they were enticed to take out loans through fraud. But the process is slow. In late September, Senator Elizabeth Warren wrote the Department of Education a letter, specifically complaining about the Department's failure to provide speedy relief for Corinthian students.

Earlier this week, Pam Hunt, a former Corinthian Student, appealed directly to President Obama to forgive the student-loan debt of all Corinthian students. "We're appealing to you this one last time," Hunt said. "Please forgive these debts before you leave office."

President Obama should head Hunt's plea, but he probably won't. Secretary of Education John King raised two objections to Hunt's proposal. First, King said, it is not clear that fraud occurred on every Corinthian campus. Second, he said that Corinthian students should testify individually that they were victims of fraud.

King is ignoring the fact that the for-profit college industry is riddled with corruption and fraud, and has victimized millions. DOE doesn't have the resources to deal with these victims on a case-by-case basis, and many for-profit students aren't sophisticated enough to file administrative actions anyway. After all, more than half of the people in income-driven repayment plans are not certifying their income on an annual basis, which is a requirement for remaining in these plans.  Few Corinthian students have applied for loan forgiveness under DOE guidelines, even though almost all are probably entitled to relief.

Hunt is right. DOE should forgive all student loans taken out by Corinthian students. And it should forgive all student debt taken out by ITT Tech students, Global University students, and students who attended Dade Medical College.

After all,whether DOE forgives these loans or not, most of these loans won't be paid back. It is in the national interest to give all victims of the for-profit college industry a fresh start.

Pam Hunt: "Please forgive these debts before you leave office."

References

Andrew Kreighbaum. New Call for Debt Relief Before Obama Leaves. Inside Higher Ed, December 6, 2016.

Tamar Lewin, "Government to Forgive Student Loans at Corinthian Colleges," New York Times, June 8, 2015.

US. Government Accounting Office. Federal Student Loans: Education Needs to Improve Its Income-Driven Repayment Plan Budget Estimates. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Accounting Office, November, 2016.

Michael Vasquez. Dade Medical College sets in motion plan to sell assets. Miami Herald, November 18, 205.

 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Department of Education denies student-aid money to Globe University and Minnesota School of Business: Surely the end is near for Globe/MSB

The Department of Education announced this week that it is suspending Globe University and Minnesota School of Business from participating in the federal student aid program. Last September a Minnesota judge ruled that Globe and MSB had fraudulently marketed their criminal justice programs, and the Minnesota Office of Higher Education began the process of revoking the schools' authorization to operate.

Globe and MSB had over 9,000 students as recently as 2010, but enrollments plummeted after the Minnesota Attorney General's Office began investigating the institutions. According to a news story, students spent as much as $80,000 to obtain degrees in criminal justice, but these degrees did not lead to jobs as Minnesota police or probation officers. Apparently, the schools' programs were not accredited by the Minnesota Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training.

 It is hard to see how Globe and MSB can continue to operate without as steady infusions of federal student-aid money. Together the two schools received more than $50 million in federal aid money for the 2014-2015 academic year.  Earlier this year, DOE cut ITT Tech off from federal student-aid money, and that institution closed and filed for bankruptcy shortly thereafter. It seems likely that Globe University and MSB will be closing soon--perhaps within a few weeks.

It is good to see DOE and state attorneys general going after for-profit institutions that prey on unwary students. Without a doubt, vigorous enforcement actions will force a lot of shady institutions to close.

But hundreds of thousands of students have taken out billions of dollars in federal student loans to attend for-profit institutions, and their student loans are not automatically forgiven if the institution they attended is found liable for fraud. Although DOE has a closed-school loan forgiveness program and a process whereby students can seek loan forgiveness if they were defrauded by the college they attended, both processes are cumbersome and slow.

In my view, all students who attended a for-profit college should have their student loans automatically forgiven if the college they attended is found liable by a competent court of defrauding students  or violating consumer protection laws. Of course, discharging all these student loans would be a huge hit for taxpayers, but it is not fair for students who were lured into taking out loans to receive substandard training or education from sketchy for-profit colleges to be burdened by debt they simply will never be able to pay.




References

Christopher Magan. Fraud ruling threatens Globe U, Minnesota School  of Business with closure. Twin City Pioneer Press, September 8, 2016.

Judge Orders Globe University, Minnesota School of Business to Stop Fraudulent Marketing. KSTP Televsion News, September 10, 2016.

U.S. Department of Education. Globe University, Minnesota School of  Business Denied Access to Federal Student Aid Dollars. US. Department of Education Press Release, December 6, 2016.

 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Feds will forgive student loans of disabled borrowers: Doing the right thing in the right way (cutting through red tape)

The Department of Education announced this week that it will write customized letters to 387,000 disabled student-loan borrowers to inform them they are eligible for loan forgiveness. Good for the feds. DOE regulations authorize student-loan forgiveness for borrowers who are permanently disabled, but most people eligible for forgiveness don't apply. In fact, according to an Inside Higher Ed article, almost half of all disabled borrowers (179,000) are in default!

I applaud DOE for doing the right thing and reaching out to people who are entitled to have their student loans forgiven. This is a stark and pleasing contrast to the Department's position in Myhre v. U.S. Department of Education, when DOE opposed bankruptcy discharge for a quadriplegic debtor whose expenses exceeded his income because he had to pay a full-time caregiver to feed, dress, and bathe him.

Apparently, DOE is going to streamline the loan-forgiveness process for disabled borrowers. According to an article by Jillian Berman in Marketwatch:
The borrowers identified by the Department won’t have to go through the typical application process for receiving a disability discharge, which requires sending in documented proof of their disability. Instead, the borrower will simply have to sign and return the completed application enclosed in the letter.
DOE is to be commended for cutting through red tape to forgive these loans.  Perhaps this streamlined approach can be expanded to include student-loan borrowers who were defrauded by the college they attended--particularly students who attended one of the Corinthian Colleges institutions. Thousands of former Corinthian students have applied for loan forgiveness, but the administrative process has been tedious.

This latest development provides more evidence of the massive suffering experienced by millions of distressed student-loan borrowers. Nearly 400,000 of them are permanently disabled!

References

Jillian Berman. Why Obama is forgiving the student loans of almost 400,000 people. Marketwatch.com, April 13, 2016. Accessible at http://www.marketwatch.com/story/why-obama-is-forgiving-the-student-loans-of-nearly-400000-people-2016-04-12

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Loan forgiveness for college students defrauded by for-profit colleges: Why not simply allow defrauded students to take bankruptcy?

The Department of Education is revising the regulations for handling student-debtor requests for debt relief. Under present regulations, student-loan borrowers  are eligible for debt relief if they can show they were victims of misrepresentation by the institution they attended.

But the old regulations are cumbersome, and DOE has been swamped by debt relief requests after Corinthian Colleges closed last year. Corinthian had 350,000 students or former students.

Apparently, the Department of Education is proposing some sort of hearing process where students who claims to be fraud victim can confront the colleges that lured them into enrolling and taking out student loans.

But how will that work? All the for-profit colleges have teams of lawyers, and the defrauded students who confront them at hearings will likely  have no lawyer at all.  That's a crumby idea.

Second, DOE is contemplating some kind of statute of limitation that would bar a student's fraud claim if not filed by some yet-to-be-defined time limit. Another crumby idea. Student-loan creditors can pursue student-loan defaulters any time they want--30 years after a loan was incurred if they choose. That's because there is no statute of limitation on debt collection of a student loan. So why should students be restricted by a time limit to file misrepresentation claims?

Third, the proposed regulations are cumbersome legalese that many students won't understand. Here is a sample of proposal's text:
For loans first disbursed prior to July 1, 2007, the borrower may assert as a defense to repayment, any act or omission of the school attended by the student that relates to the making of the loan or the provision of educational services that would give rise to a cause of action against the school under applicable State law.
Got that?

If the Department of Education were willing to face facts, it would admit that millions of students who enrolled at for-profit colleges have valid misrepresentation claims.  The for-profit industry as a whole has a 5-year default rate of 47 percent--strong evidence that many of the programs the colleges offered did not lead to well-paying jobs.

Rather than construct an elaborate, expensive, and unworkable administrative process for sorting out student fraud claims, the Department of Education should simply allow all students who attended a for-profit college and who are now broke to discharge their student-loan debts in bankruptcy without having to meet the "undue hardship" standard that currently applies to student-loan debtors in the bankruptcy courts. In other words, an insolvent student-loan debtor who attended a for-profit college should be able to discharge student-loan debt in bankruptcy like any other nonsecured debt.

After all, the bankruptcy courts have the expertise and the resources to sort out valid bankruptcy claims from invalid ones.  But DOE won't expedite the loan forgiveness process because it knows that millions of people took out student loans for worthless college experiences. If every student who was huckstered by a for-profit college obtained student-loan debt relief, the cost of loan forgiveness would amount to hundreds of billions of dollars.

References

Michael Stratford. Obama Crackdown on College Fraud. Inside Higher Ed, February 9, 2016. https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2016/02/09/education-department-creates-new-office-crack-down-fraud-colleges?utm_source=Inside+Higher+Ed&utm_campaign=8bca58981a-DNU20160209&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_1fcbc04421-8bca58981a-198565653

Michael Stratford. New Criteria For Debt Relief. Inside Higher Ed, February 17, 2016. Available at: https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2016/02/17/us-plan-would-cancel-federal-loans-borrowers-misled-their-colleges?utm_source=Inside+Higher+Ed&utm_campaign=60a80c3a41-DNU20160217&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_1fcbc04421-60a80c3a41-198565653

Kelly Field, "U.S. Has Forgiven Loans of More Than 3,000 Ex-Corinthian Students, Chronicle of Higher Education, September 3, 2015. Accessible at: http://chronicle.com/article/US-Has-Forgiven-Loans-of/232855/?cid=pm&utm_source=pm&utm_medium=en

Tamar Lewin, "Government to Forgive Student Loans at Corinthian Colleges," New York Times, June 8, 2015. Accessible at: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/09/education/us-to-forgive-federal-loans-of-corinthian-college-students.html?_r=0

Adam Looney & Constantine Yannelis, A crisis in student loans? How changes in the characteristics of borrowers and in the institutions they attended contributed to rising default rates. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution (2015). Accessible at: http://www.brookings.edu/about/projects/bpea/papers/2015/looney-yannelis-student-loan-defaults


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Dade Medical College is closing and its former CEO is charged with making illegal campaign contributions: All its former students should have their federal student loans forgiven

Dade Medical College, a Florida for-profit institution that trains medical professionals, is closing. Its former CEO, Ernesto Perez, is a high-school dropout and former rock musician who at one time made a salary of $431,000 a year; and the college collected $100 million in federal student aid money over a three-year period.

DMC students, however, didn't do so well. According to the Miami Herald, DMC's  Hollywood (Florida) campus had a pass rate of only 13 percent on the 2014 Florida nurses' exam.

And DMC surely benefited from strategic political contributions. David Halperin, writing for Huffington Post article, wrote:
Perez and his wife have given at least $100,000 to political candidates and PACs, with recipients including Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Harry Reid (D-NV), and Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and Joe Garcia (D-FL) . . . .
Miami Herald writer Fred Grimm reported that Perez and his associates made $750,000 in political contributions. And a couple of Florida state legislators were actually on DMC's payroll. Indeed, Perez was recently charged with making illegal campaign contributions

What is going to happen to DMC's 2000 students, most of whom took out student loans to finance their studies? The U.S.  Department of Education has a program in place whereby students can have their federal loans forgiven if their institution closes before they complete their studies. There is also a loan forgiveness program for students who were defrauded by the educational institution they attended.

But these programs are cumbersome. Only a small fraction of  Corinthian Colleges' former students have obtained relief from their student loans, even though Corinthian recently filed for bankruptcy and is being investigated by several states' attorneys general for misrepresentations and other improprieties. Corinthian has 350,000 former students, but as of September only about 3,000 of them have had their student loans forgiven.

It is probably true that some people actually benefited from attending Ernesto Perez's medical college. After all, a small percentage of DMC students who took the nursing exam actually passed it.

But surely most DMC students have a good argument that their student loans should be forgiven. So why should DMC students have to file individual claims to have their loan obligations wiped out?

Given what we know about this tawdry institution, it does not seem fair to require all of DMC's former students to go through an elaborate administrative process in order to have  their student loans forgiven.  No--DOE should wipe the slate clean for everyone who took out a federal student loan to attend Dade Medical College.

Image result for ernesto perez dade medical college
Ernesto Perez in court
photo credit: Al Diaz, Miami Herald

References

Francisco Alvarado. Dade Medical College Has Powerful Friends but Struggling Students.  Broward/Palm Beach  New Times, August 29, 2013.  Accessible at: http://www.browardpalmbeach.com/2013-08-29/news/dade-medical-college-has-powerful-friends-but-struggling-students/

Patricia Born & Jay Weaver. Homestead mayor's ties to downtown redeveloper probed. Miami Herald, June 8, 2013. Accessible at: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/06/08/v-fullstory/3441091/homestead-mayors-ties-to-downtown.html


Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/06/08/v-fullstory/3441091/homestead-mayors-ties-to-downtown.html#storylink=cpy
Dade Medical College.  Ernesto Perez to be Honored at SFBJ CEO Awards. 2013. Accessible at: http://www.dademedical.edu/rightnow/ernestoperezbehonoredsfbjceoawards

Kelly Field, "U.S. Has Forgiven Loans of More Than 3,000 Ex-Corinthian Students, Chronicle of Higher Education, September 3, 2015. Accessible at: http://chronicle.com/article/US-Has-Forgiven-Loans-of/232855/?cid=pm&utm_source=pm&utm_medium=en

Fred Grimm. Before his fall, Ernesto Perez bought himself lots of friends. Miami  Herald, November 4, 2015. Accessible at: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/news-columns-blogs/fred-grimm/article42988848.html

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/news-columns-blogs/fred-grimm/article42988848.html#storylink=cpy

David Halperin. $33 Million Per Year of Your Tax Money to For-Profit College Whose CEO Hid Criminal Record. Huffington Post, October 21, 2013. Accessible at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/davidhalperin/33-million-per-year-of-yo_b_4136451.html

Michael Vasquez. Amid criminal charges, CEO of Dade Medical Ccollege Resigns. Miami Herald, October 23, 2013. Accessible at: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/10/23/3706821/ernesto-perez-resigns-as-head.html

Dade Medical College owner turns himself in. Miami Herald, November 3, 2015. Accessible at: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/education/article42643344.html

Michael Vasquez and Christina Veiga. A for-profit empire, Dade Medical College, tumbles down. Miami Herald, October 30, 2015. Accessible at: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article41967387.html