For-Profit Schools Project

FPSP PSA

Feeling scammed by your school? Contact us.

The For-Profit Schools Project (FPSP) is an initiative of NYLAG’s Special Litigation Unit. Through the FPSP, NYLAG is investigating for-profit post-secondary schools, which make money from government-guaranteed student loans yet offer little to their students but crushing debt.  The student population enrolled in for-profit schools is older, lower-income, and higher-borrowing than at non-profit or public schools. A student at a for-profit school is more likely to be foreign-born, of color, and supporting dependents than a student at a non-profit or public school. New York City alone is home to approximately 300 for-profit schools, where enrollment has increased by over 200 percent in the last decade. NYLAG attorneys have spoken with many individuals who are having their federal income tax refunds seized and who are being hounded by debt collectors over student loans, yet are unable to find a job in the field in which they studied. NYLAG is exploring ways to improve the oversight of for-profit schools and to provide systemic relief from student loan debts for former students.

Contact

Phone: (212) 946-0354
Email: [email protected]

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Initiatives

Relief for past victims of for-profit schools: NYLAG advocates for debt relief for victims of schools that engaged in fraudulent practices.

  • On February 26, NYLAG filed a complaint against the US Department of Education (USED) on behalf of an estimated 40,000 students nationwide who attended the Wilfred American Education Corporation, a chain of for-profit trade schools. Click here for more information.
  • Earlier NYLAG had written a letter to the USED, asking for the discharge of student loans held by twenty former Wilfred Beauty Academy students, who attended in the late 1980s and early 1990s in New York City.
  • NYLAG may be able to assist defrauded students of Wilfred or any other school. If you did not have a high school diploma or GED and borrowed money to attend a for-profit school after January 1, 1986, or attended a school that closed while you were enrolled or shortly thereafter, please contact us.
  • See the resources section for more information about whether you may be eligible for a discharge of your student loans.

Holding schools accountable for deceptive practices: Today, most for-profit colleges are owned by publicly-traded companies or private equity firms, and offer associates, bachelors, and other advanced degrees. They are run like businesses, and are accountable for the returns they produce for shareholders. Profitability hinges on enrolling individuals who will qualify for federal student loans and grants, regardless of the benefit to the student.

  • NYLAG advocates for the strengthening of consumer protection laws as they pertain to for-profit schools. Please see the resources section below for more information about how to protect yourself from excessive debt and debt collection lawsuits.
  • NYLAG advises and represents former students in debt collection lawsuits.
  • NYLAG speaks with former employees of for-profit schools who worked in marketing, recruitment, and financial aid at for-profit colleges. NYLAG is interested in learning more about industry practices, so please contact us if you would like to share your story with us.

Investigating Regulatory Loopholes: In New York, responsibility for the oversight of for-profit schools is split between two parts of the state Department of Education, the Bureau of Proprietary School Supervision (BPSS), which oversees certificate-granting schools, and the Office of College and University Evaluation (OCUE), which oversees all degree-granting schools in the state.

NYLAG advocates for reform of federal regulation that govern for-profit schools; see NYLAG’s testimony here.

NYLAG asks for transparency and accountability from the U.S. Department of Education by seeking the release, through the Freedom of Information Act, of information critical to student loan borrowers.  One such request, asks for information about the Department’s implementation of a little-known regulation that permits federal student loan borrowers to defend against repayment of their loans, based on the misconduct of the school they attended. The Department has yet to disclose any of the requested information, but has denied NYLAG’s request that the Department waive any fees associated with disclosing the information. NYLAG appealed, arguing that there is a strong public interest in the information. NYLAG will continue to post updates about this freedom of information request.

Partnering with CBOs: NYLAG partners with other New York City community-based organizations in order to share information and strategies for identifying and protecting past, present, and future students from abusive for-profit schools.

Attorneys in NYLAG’s FPSP, along with attorneys in NYLAG’s consumer debt practice, also work with counselors at city-wide Offices of Financial Empowerment, to assist financial counselors in addressing specific issues related to student loan debt.

Resources

Educate Yourself:

  • Know Before You Enroll is a New York City Initiative that works with students to select an appropriate school or training program and advises students about taking on excessive amounts of school debt and how to file complaints against schools.
  • The Mayor’s Office of Adult Education site has a search tool to locate free and low-cost programs in your neighborhood in New York City.
  • The National Center for Education Statistics‘ website provides information and statistics about post-secondary schools in the United States.
  • Learn more about what it means to take out student loans. The Federal Student Aid site illustrates the many different options for student aid.
  • Career Education Corporation, a large for-profit college corporation agreed to pay $10.25 million to settle a claim by the State of New York that the company deceived students by advertising inaccurate job placement rates. Sanford-Brown Institute is among the schools owned and operated by Education Corp.

Find Out More about Your Student Debt:

  • To learn more about your current student debt, check out the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED’s) central database for student aid. NSLDS receives data from schools, guaranty agencies, the Direct Loan program, and other Department of ED programs. Recipients of Title IV Aid can access and inquire about their Title IV loans and/or grant data.
  • Student Debt Discharge: Determine whether you qualify for a student loan discharge due to your job, disability, the closure of your school, or other circumstances.

Take Charge of Your Student Debt:

  • The National Consumer Law Center’s Student Loan Borrower Assistance Project has many useful resources.
  • Contact The Federal Student Aid Ombudsman Group of the U.S. Department of Education, which is dedicated to helping resolve disputes related to Direct Loans, Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program loans, Guaranteed Student Loans, and Perkins Loans.
  • File a complaint about your school with either BPSS or OCUE. To determine whether your schools is BPSS or OCUE, click here to visit the NY State Education Department website and then:

Click here to file a complaint with BPSS

Click here to file a complaint with OCUE

NYLAG in the For-Profit Schools News

Other For-Profit Schools News

Click here to view a flyer with information about NYLAG’s For-Profit Schools Project.