Nearly 4,500 students of the now-closed American Career Institute’s five Massachusetts campuses will have their federal student loans forgiven by the U.S. government.
Attorney General Maura Healey and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren made the announcement last Friday, while also vowing to hold the incoming Trump administration accountable for enforcing laws that protect defrauded students.
“This is an industry that we know needs heavy policing,” said Healey. “It is an industry rife with deception, rife with predatory practices, and I sure hope that the next secretary of education understands that and takes this seriously. This is a for-profit industry that has raked it in on the backs of taxpayers and on the backs of vulnerable students. That’s why this kind of action is so important. I only hope that it continues and I hope that the next administration pays close attention.”
Between 2010 and early 2013, the American Career Institute operated career training schools in Braintree, Cambridge, Framingham, Springfield and Woburn. It offered certificate programs in fields such as information technology and medical assisting programs, with tuition and fees costing up to $23,000.
The school abruptly closed in 2013, prompting the AG’s office to sue. School officials then admitted to actions including maintaining false and misleading records, misrepresenting completion rates and altering student grades, as well as allowing individuals who were not properly licensed to teach courses and failing to provide many students with books or software they had paid for.
In July 2016, Healey submitted a formal application to the U.S. Department of Education, calling for the cancellation of loans taken out by ACI students. The former ACI students will also be entitled to refunds of any payments made on their federal loans, and the combined loan discharges for ACI students will total roughly $30 million.
Betsy Mayotte, the director of consumer outreach at the Center for Consumer Advocacy at American Student Assistance, praised Healey and her staff for their work “to ensure that the victims of the misleading practices of ACI would receive the relief they are due in an efficient way.”
“The Department of Education has made significant steps to protect victims of predatory schools and we hope that this continues to be a priority during the next Administration,” Mayotte said in a statement.
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