The Department of Education will Cancel $55 million in Student Loans for Borrowers at Three New Institutions.

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The Education Department stated Friday that it would discharge another $55.6 million in student debt for students at three other colleges, only weeks after it erased half a billion dollars in student debt for borrowers misled by their schools.

Approximately 1,800 students from Westwood College, Marinello Schools of Beauty, and the Court Reporting Institute will have all of their debts discharged as part of the borrower defense program, which allows loan holders to file claims to have their debt forgiven if they believe they have been scammed.

The Biden administration has now canceled more than $1.5 billion in loans for more than 92,000 borrowers under the program, a substantial departure from the previous administration, which mostly stalled relief efforts. Furthermore, the most recent decisions broadened the scope of relief beyond a small set of schools.

The approvals on Friday were the first since 2017 for debt forgiveness at institutions other than Corinthian Colleges, ITT Technical Institute, and American Career Institute.

Those three for-profit institutions are no longer in operation.

“The department will continue to do its share to assess and approve borrower defense claims in a timely and equitable manner so that borrowers obtain the relief that they require and deserve,” said Education Secretary Miguel Cardona. “We also hope that these approvals serve as a message to any institution that engages in similar behavior that this type of dishonesty is unacceptable.”

Former Westwood students accounted for the majority of the aid distributed on Friday. The agency granted almost 1,600 of their claims, totaling over $53 million, involving two types of deceit. According to the agency, Westwood deceived students about their ability to transfer credits between 2002 and the school’s closing in 2015. According to the department, a second set of borrowers in the criminal justice program were mislead about their job prospects in Illinois law enforcement. Many organizations refused to recognize their credits, forcing borrowers to accept low-wage jobs rather than ones for which they had trained.

Another 200 claim approvals erased almost $2.2 million in debts associated with Marinello Schools of Beauty. Students who attended from 2009 until the school’s closure in 2016 claimed they were deceived about classes and training that were intended to be provided but were never provided. According to the department, this made it “very impossible” for them to pass needed state licensing tests.

Officials from the Education Department also discovered numerous misrepresentations at the Court Reporting Institute, where it authorized 18 claims totaling $340,000. The institution misled borrowers about how long it would take to complete the program from 1998 until its closing in 2006, according to the government. The vast majority of students never completed their studies.

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