(WSVN) - We have seen it again in South Florida. Last week, ITT Technical Institute shut down, and once again students who borrowed a lot of money to go to college were left shattered as they face the prospect of repaying loans for a school they never graduated from. But do the students have to pay back that money? The answer is in tonight’s Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
Sally Zenon is a single mom, the breadwinner, and of course, she always needs more bread.
Sally Zenon, has to repay student loan: “And I said, ‘You know what? I need to step up my game, and I actually have to go out and better myself.'”
That was in 2013. Sally decided to go to school.
Sally Zenon: “And that’s when I went to ATI and said, ‘I’ll just try the medical assistant field.'”
ATI was a private, for-profit college, and Sally says ATI made it easy to afford the $22,000 tuition.
Sally Zenon: “The loan process was so quick. That’s the fastest I’ve seen a loan process. They said, ‘OK, you start school the next day.’ I was like, ‘Awesome.'”
Sally says the loan was backed by the federal government. Then, a few months later, ATI was accused of fraud and ripping students off.
The school shut down, and Sally’s problems started.
Sally Zenon: “The second document that I received was a completion, a diploma for medial assistance.”
But the diploma is worthless because ATI issued it, even though Sally did not finish the courses, meaning she cannot get certified to become a medical assistant.
Sally Zenon: “I am not registered in the State of Florida as a student that has completed a program.”
And more trouble for Sally. The loan company is now demanding she repay the $22,000 that was given to ATI for the classes she was never allowed to finish.
Sally Zenon: “I am constantly getting letters. I’m constantly getting emails, like every three days, ‘You need to pay this loan, you need to pay this loan, you need to make this amount.'”
Other students at ATI have the same problem, and students at ITT Tech, which just shut down in South Florida, now face repaying loans for a degree they didn’t get.
Sally Zenon: “I am not the only one who’s complaining.”
Sally then tried to go back to other schools, but first she was told she had to repay the $22,000 loan, and then she would have to start over in school.
Sally Zenon: “They wouldn’t accept the credits. They won’t accept me in their school. The fact is that ATI kinda screwed us over.”
A worthless degree, a $22,000 loan she is being told she has to repay. Howard, students at ATI and now ITT face the same problem. First question, do they have to repay the loans?
Howard Finkelstein: “If a student like Sally has a federally backed loan through the U.S. Department of Education and the school shuts down, they qualify for what’s called ‘loan forgiveness,’ and don’t have to pay back all or some of the loan, depending on the case.”
Sally has a federally backed loan, and therefore does qualify to have her loan forgiven by the Department of Education.
Now the second question, Howard: Can she take credits for the classes that she’s already completed to another school?
Howard Finkelstein: “It’s up to the school you’re applying to to decide, but if they do accept the credits in a similar type of studies, then you do not get loan forgiveness for the credits that you earned, but that’s OK, because now you earned those credits, which will help you graduate more quickly to begin repaying the money.”
Sally Zenon: “I’m in the process of getting these loans discharged.”
Sally has applied to get her loan completely wiped out and is determined this setback won’t stop her from getting her degree.
Sally Zenon: “No, it’s not, ’cause after this, I am going to continue to go to school for nursing.”
And we will continue to help Sally get through this mess. Now if you’ve got a federally backed loan to ATI or ITT Tech, which just shut down, or any school that closed before you graduated, try to get the loan wiped out, even if you have already started repaying it.
A financial headache shutting you down? Ready to graduate to the solving stage? Enroll with us. You don’t have to worry about repaying us. We loan Howard’s legal expertise out for free.
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