By: Lance Denha, Esq.
You’ve probably watched their TV commercials that air during shows like Law and Order, promising a rewarding career to reel students in. Like many for-profit colleges, ITT has been exploiting students and pushing them into taking out huge loans, knowing they would probably end up in default. Students who have been getting the run around from companies handling their student loans now have the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to help assist them obtain recourse against these for profit colleges.
The CFPB has been extremely active and has taken an aggressive approach to establish itself as the watchdog agency in order to regulate student loan servicing firms. In showing its aggressive stance, earlier this year the CFPB initiated a lawsuit against ITT Educational Services, Inc., accusing ITT of predatory lending. The CFPB has alleged within the lawsuit that ITT violated the Dodd-Frank ban on unfair, deceptive or abusive practices by misleading borrowers about job placement rates and salaries after graduation, misrepresenting information about accreditation and the transferability of credits, and strong arming students into high interest loans that the company knew students would be unable to repay. This is the CFPB’s first enforcement action against a for profit education company.
ITT has responded back with a Motion to attempt to dismiss this lawsuit filed by the CFPB saying that this lawsuit violates the Constitution and that the CFPB does not have control and to ITT under the specific acts and laws the CFPB references within the lawsuit. According to ITT, it did not constitute “brokering” under the Consumer Financial Protection Act but rather was assistance that was permitted by statutory law to provide students in securing financial aid. ITT also mentioned in the Motion that the CFPB seeks to “create a class of prospective students who are too dangerous to service-and therefore cannot be educated” which is contrary to the best interests of disadvantaged students”. This case remains ongoing.
In addition to the CFPB’s lawsuit against ITT, the U.S. Department of Education is expected to release its proposed gainful employment regulation that aims to help protect students from risky programs where students are often set up to fail. A strong gainful employment regulation would make it harder for institutions to take advantage of students to receive federal funding. Many, but not all, of these predatory institutions are for-profit colleges that make money by tricking students to take on large amounts of debt and a meaningless degree — costing taxpayers millions of dollars in the process.
This lawsuit filed by the CFPB is extremely important and relevant not only to those that have been affected by ITT and other for profit education companies, but for current and future students to understand and comprehend the mechanisms some of these schools employ to get them placed in loans that are not necessary to obtaining the education necessary to develop the career these students are seeking.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of predatory lending or aggressive tactics which placed students into loans in which were not economically beneficial to students in order to continue studies, it is highly advisable to seek out further information and obtain an assessment as to whether help is available to you to rid yourself of the problematic issues unnecessarily burdened upon you at the time of receiving student loans.