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星期二, 7月 26, 2016

AG HEALEY SUBMITS APPLICATION TO U. S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION TO CANCEL LOANS FOR THOUSANDS OF FOR-PROFIT SCHOOL STUDENTS

AG HEALEY SUBMITS APPLICATION TO U. S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION TO CANCEL LOANS FOR THOUSANDS OF FOR-PROFIT SCHOOL STUDENTSAmerican Career Institute Admitted to Lying, Fabricating Records and Violating Massachusetts Law; AG Applies for Loan Discharges for More than 4,400 Students 

            BOSTON – Attorney General Maura Healey today submitted a formal application to the U. S. Department of Education calling for the immediate cancellation of loans taken out by Massachusetts students deceived and abused by the American Career Institute (ACI), a former for-profit school that abruptly closed in 2013. 

            The application is based on the unprecedented consent judgment that the AG’s Office obtained against ACI, in which ACI admits to widespread violations of the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act. The AG’s submission was sent today to Department Secretary John King and Chief Enforcement Officer Robert Kaye of the Department’s Office of Federal Student Aid. In November 2015, AG Healey sent a similar letterseeking loan forgiveness for former Corinthian students in Massachusetts, which has resulted in many such students having their debts eliminated.

“Thousands of students who took out loans to attend these predatory, low-quality programs are legally entitled to immediate forgiveness today,” AG Healey said. “Not only did this school fully admit to lying to its students, it left them with millions of dollars of debt and no real career training. I urge the Department to utilize its power to finally get these students the long-overdue relief they deserve.”

Today’s application asks for a group discharge of all federal loans taken out by approximately 4,400 student borrowers who attended ACI’s career training schools at five locations in Massachusetts – Braintree, Cambridge, Framingham, Springfield, and Woburn.  ACI had offered various certificate programs, such as information technology and medical assisting programs, with tuition and fees that cost up to $23,000.

In 2013, the AG’s Office sued ACI for falsely promising meaningful vocational training and opportunities to its students and then failing to deliver, as well as other widespread misconduct. The judgment against ACI last month in Suffolk Superior Court is believed to be the first time a for-profit school has admitted, in court, its predatory wrongdoing in violation of state law. ACI acknowledged that it knowingly overstated the employment prospects for its graduates; falsified student signatures, enrollment records, attendance records, and grades; used unlicensed and unqualified instructors; and provided valueless externships and no meaningful career placement services.

In its application today, the AG’s Office has requested that the Department cancel all federal loans taken out by 4,400 students who attended ACI from January 2010 through the school’s closure in January 2013 based on ACI’s numerous admissions and violations of Massachusetts law. Additionally, more than 1,400 of those students are entitled to loan discharges because they were enrolled at ACI at the time the school closed or withdrew in the four months prior to ACI’s closure. The Department has already used its existing authority to grant discharges to defrauded Corinthian students in Massachusetts and other states on the basis of Corinthian’s illegal conduct.

AG Healey continues to lead efforts to help students who were deceived by predatory for-profit schools. She has rallied state attorneys general and members of Congress to speak out on the importance of loan discharge, authored letters to the Department of Education, and organized calls and meetings with the Department to help students struggling with their federal loan debt.
AG Healey has been a national leader against predatory for-profit schools and continues to work to secure relief for students. In November 2015, AG Healey announced actions against student debt relief companies and the launch of a Student Loan Assistance Unit to assist borrowers having trouble paying their loans. The AG’s Office is in ongoing litigation with Corinthian and recently sued ITT Tech and an unlicensed for-profit nursing school for alleged unfair and deceptive practices. The AG’s Office also has reached settlements worth more than $6 million with Kaplan Career Institute, Lincoln TechSullivan & Cogliano, and Salter College.
All former ACI students are encouraged to contact the AG’s Office by calling the Student Loan Assistance Unit Hotline at 1-888-830-6277 or by completing the ACI Student Contact Information Update Form so the AG’s Office can assist those students who may be eligible for various relief.