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Proposed settlement to provide relief for former for-profit college students

This targets veterans who sought education from for-profit colleges
Student loan interest freeze: Check if your loan is eligible
Posted at 5:54 PM, Jun 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-27 19:18:49-04

AKRON — After an arduous, three-year court battle, the U.S. Dept. of Education has announced that it will erase more than $6 billion in student loan debt held by borrowers that were allegedly defrauded by predatory for-profit colleges. A large contingent of those borrowers are veterans whose GI Bill benefits were specifically targeted by the for-profit colleges, according to court filings.

If approved by a federal judge, the proposed settlement would pave the way to have the loans forgiven for hundreds of thousands of veterans and other borrowers. The proposed settlement would trigger the immediate approval of thousands of applications that have been filed by people that claim they were defrauded by colleges like the University of Phoenix, Capella University and the Brooks Institute. Even those whose colleges weren’t on the government’s list of problematic colleges would have their applications approved more quickly.

Nicole Wilson, an Akron native that is a veteran of the U.S. Navy and Ohio National Guard, said the proposed settlement is a massive sigh of relief.

“I have children and I don’t have to worry about whether or not I can pay my mortgage in order to pay these student loans,” Wilson said. “I don’t have to take anything away from [my children] in order to pay for a degree that meant nothing.”

Upon graduating from high school, Wilson enlisted in the Navy and served as an engineer from 2002 through 2004. She also re-enlisted in the Navy reserves from 2005 through 2006. After her nephew enlisted in the military, Wilson completed basic training a second time and joined the Ohio National Guard in 2013 and completed 7 more years of service.

Prior to joining the Ohio National Guard, Wilson enrolled at Brown Mackie College, a for-profit college that closed a majority of its campuses in 2016 amid legal and financial troubles.

Wilson said the college advertised itself as having an accelerated program. However, because the college was listed as for-profit, Wilson’s benefits under the GI Bill only covered a portion of her tuition and other costs, forcing her to take out student loans on the remaining balance.

“$72,000 in student loans later and a degree that means absolutely nothing, I have student loans more expensive than my [home],” Wilson said. “I owe $20,000 more in student loans than my house. The insult to injury is that just don’t have a degree, but I used my GI Bill. I don’t get that back.”

Undeterred, Wilson continues to move forward and will be taking classes at the Univ. of Akron in August in order to become a guidance counselor.

“It’s going be these young kids that are going to be the next impact, the future. I want to be able to there to help them on that journey to be the next leaders of this country,” Wilson said.