The Trump Administration is taking legal action to keep a former Argosy University student with cancer from having his federal student loans canceled after the school’s closing. The chain of for-profit schools closed, leaving thousands of students with massive student loan debt and no degree.
The student, Robert Armour, attended Argosy University for his doctorate degree in psychology. He took a leave of absence from his program to undergo treatment for his advanced colon cancer. During this time, the for-profit school shuttered and the campus closed.
At that point, Armour had more than $100,000 in federal student loans. He applied to have his student loans forgiven, but his application was denied by the Department of Education. The Department claimed that since he was on a leave of absence for four months at the time the school closed, he did not qualify for loan forgiveness. As a result, Armour filed a legal claim disputing his denial in August against Education Secretary Betsy Devos and the Department of Education.
The Department of Education claims that students are eligible for federal loan forgiveness if they were enrolled at the time a school closed or were on an approved leave of absence or had withdrawn within four months of the school closing. However, Armour argues that nothing in the application for discharge stated that a leave of absence may not exceed six months in a calendar year. To add insult to injury, after he had initially applied for forgiveness, the Department of Education had sent him a letter stating that he appeared to meet the criteria and that his request was under final review.
The Justice Department attorneys consistently have argued that the length of time for his leave of absence made him ineligible for the loan discharge, using the last day he attended class as the marker for determining how long he was out of school for his leave of absence. However, Armour’s attorneys argue that this time limit is completely unrelated to the shuttered school’s discharge. They say that this four-month period is normally used to determine if a college must return federal student aid due to the student withdrawing, not due to the school closing.
While the Department of Education claims they are working to resolve the matter, they are preparing for a legal fight, as well. They claim he may qualify for a total and permanent disability discharge but proving this type of discharge is completely different than proving the school closed. This type of discharge would also not allow Armour to receive a refund for the $34,000 he already paid on his loans. Additionally, the disability discharge would require Armour to be subjected to a three-year monitoring period, which would require him to show that his earnings do not go over the poverty line.
All of this is occurring the same time that Armour is fighting cancer. He insists on doing everything possible to beat the cancer, but Armour’s attorneys say by swearing to be totally and permanently disabled, he would be required to admit defeat to his cancer diagnosis.
Argosy closed shortly after the Department of Education cut off its federal student aid in February after learning that the university used over $13 million in funds owed to students to cover payroll and other expenses. Argosy was owned by the Dream Center, which also owned a number of other shuttered for-profit schools, leaving thousands of students in the same situation as Armour.
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Source: Washington Post