In recent years, the U.S. Department of Education has taken on two different roles in the lives of indebted former college students. The same bureaucracy must collect on the $1.1 trillion in student loans in an attempt to protect taxpayer dollars and it also oversees the nation’s largest-ever effort to forgive student loan debt.
The government’s dual roles have since caused problems for former Corinthian Colleges Inc. students. Tens of thousands of these former students had their student loans cancelled and according to the Obama administration they were supposed to be reimbursed in full. However, the Department of Education has been actively collecting on federal student debt owed by the former students.
Corinthian Colleges Inc. filed for bankruptcy in 2015 under a cloud of fraud investigations. As a result, government officials had reason to believe that some of these students’ debts should be forgiven. However, former students have come forward saying that they are still being approached for payment on their loans. When companies have made similar attempts at collecting on debt that is not actually owed in the past, they have been charged by federal and state regulators with violating the law.
According to the former director of the Federal Trade Commission’s consumer protection division, David Vladeck, “There’s no clear-cut reason why there shouldn’t be automatic loan forgiveness for people who otherwise would have a legal claim for deceptive conduct against this now-bankrupt company.” He went on to say, “These kids by and large have been scammed, and the Department of Education in some sense is continuing that harm by making them jump through hoops to get the relief to which they are entitled.”
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