In the late 1970’s and thereafter, the Higher Education Act (“HEA”) was amended to allow greater access to Title IV federal student loans for students attending “for profit” schools. Most of these for profit schools provide vocational type courses and cater to lower income individuals who may or may not have graduated high school. NCLC’s Student Loan Law refers to a statement to a Senate committee from a recruiter for a truck driving school in which he said the the only qualifications for getting enrolled with a student loan are that the applicant is breathing, over 18 years old, and has a driver’s license.
Now, not all non profit schools take advantage of the system and their students. However, as the number of for profit schools has grown over the last 35 years, the number of abuses in both the granting and collection of student loans has proliferated. Given the fact that there is no statute of limitations on federal student loans, many unsuspecting young people, who were only trying to learn a trade, find themselves in a tough predicament.
In an attempt to curtail improper action, DOE instituted the 90/10 rule which requires for profit schools to demonstrate that at least 10% of the income comes from sources other than federal student loans. That would include tuition payments and private loans among other sources.
Corinthian Colleges was a for profit school which was forced into bankruptcy in May, 2014 after DOE cut if off from federal loans because of a myriad of violations. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) brought suit against Corinthian for deceptive loans and predatory collection practices involving a scheme between Corinthian and Aequitas Capital Management, Inc. The scheme was an attempt to circumvent the 90/10 rule. Corinthian jacked up tuition costs beyond the amounts that students could obtain from federal loans. Corinthian then made a deal with Aequitas whereby Aequitas would fund private loans peddled by Corinthian to its students under the Genesis Loan program. These loans had interest rates up to 15% according to an article published in the Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2015/10/28/government-watchdog-wins-530-million-lawsuit-against-for-profit-corinthian-colleges-too-bad-it-will-never-see-a-dime/ . The loans were then sold back to Aequitas. By adding these private loans, Corinthian (at least of paper) was able to comply with the 90/10 rule since private loans along with tuition count toward the 10% outside funding required by DOE for profit schools.
CFPB obtained a default judgment against Corinthian in the bankruptcy court. In the meanwhile, the SEC placed Aequitas in receivership. The CFPB sued Aequitas and recently announced a proposed settlement. Under the terms of proposed settlement, approximately 41,000 students/borrowers may obtain up to $183.3 million in loan forgiveness. The proposed settlement is subject to approval by the federal court in Oregon.
We will keep you up to date on this matter. In the meanwhile, any ex-Corinthian students should actively pursue this matter to determine if their loans may be subject to forgiveness.