June 9, 2023

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  • Borrowers who attended one of the schools listed in the Sweet v. Cardona suit have until Nov. 3, 2022, to apply for student-loan forgiveness.
  • One student loan expert says the key to getting your application approved is to use the right language from your school’s specific case.
  • Your student loans will be forgiven while your application is being processed.

In August, a federal judge granted preliminary approval in the Sweet v. Cardona class action lawsuit, setting the stage for more than 200,000 borrowers to wipe out nearly $6 billion in student-loan debt. If you attend one of the 150 schools listed in the class action, you may be eligible for full or partial student-loan forgiveness under a program called “Borrower defense for repayment of loan

To receive your loan forgiveness, you must complete a Borrower Protection Application by November 3, 2022.

“It’s a scary process,” says Sonya Lewis, AKA Student loan doctor, who has helped more than 20,000 people navigate their federal student loans. “We have one On-demand classes To help people through the process, but anyone can do it themselves,” he added.

If you filed a debtor’s defense petition before June 22, 2022, you are already part of the class. But if you attend one of the named schools and haven’t applied for borrower protection yet, there’s still time.

Your loan will be foreclosed while you wait for a decision

Borrower defense petitions filed between now and Nov. 3 will receive a decision from the Department of Education within three years. “Once the application is received and processed,” Lewis said, “borrowers will be placed in administrative forbearance while the government reviews the application.”

While your loan is in forbearance, interest will accrue, and may be principal at the end of the forbearance period (meaning your interest will be added to your principal balance and any new interest will accrue on that larger balance). Paying only interest during the forbearance period will help you avoid this.

Lewis encourages people to apply to other forgiveness programs and “be prepared to pay back in January 2023.” He says borrowers usually receive letters saying their borrower defense application has been accepted. After that, administrative forbearance starts and you don’t have to make any payments until they reach a decision. “Borrowers should continue to make their loan payments while awaiting a response to their application being accepted.”

Here’s a simple three-step process that Lewis recommends to help you get your borrower defense application approved quickly.

1. Begin filling out the Borrower Protection Application at studentaid.gov

First, you’ll need to fill out the Borrower’s Defense Application, which can be found here studentaid.gov. You will need the following information:

  • Your name, address, date of birth, social security number and other contact information
  • Name and address of the school you attended
  • Any relevant documents, such as:
    • copy
    • Enrollment Agreement
    • Promotional materials from your school
    • Communication with school officials or employees
    • Student Manual
    • Course Catalogue
    • Legal documents, and more

Lewis says that most people get lost where the form first asks why you deserve a refund.

2. Google'[your school name] vs. Department of Education’

“This part is like passing a test,” says Lewis. “Type in a Google search for ‘[your school name] vs. Department of Education.'” From there, the Department of Education’s official announcement will list all grounds for suing the school.

For example, for ITT Tech, the Department of Education website said, “ITT engaged in extensive and widespread misrepresentation regarding students’ ability to obtain a job or transfer credit, and lied about programmatic recognition of ITT’s associate degree in nursing.”

3. Copy the exact language listed in the case into your application, if applicable

Once you’ve Googled the details of the case, Lewis says you need to copy and paste that exact word into the application. “Nine times out of 10, it applies mostly to students who graduate from those schools because it was a universal thing.”

Section 4 of the borrower’s defense application has several places where you can paste this information. Chapter 4 has 10 parts:

  • Admission Selection: Relevant if the school you went to made false claims about how many people were admitting or how difficult it was to get into the school, just to name a few examples.
  • Representation of third parties: Relevant if the school you attended misrepresents or falsely states their ranking on a “best schools” list
  • Required to enroll: If your school tells you that you have limited time to enroll in your program
  • Educational Services: If your school misrepresents or lies about the qualifications of your teachers, or the institution’s accreditation status
  • Employment Prospects: If your school misrepresents or makes false claims about their job placement rates
  • Program Cost and Nature of Loan: If your school fails to explain the total cost of the program and what type of loan you are taking out for tuition
  • Credit Transfer: If your school provides false information about your ability to transfer credits to and from another school
  • Career Services: If your school fails to provide career services that were promised to you
  • trial (These last two categories only apply to borrowers who received Direct Loans between July 1, 2017 and July 1, 2020)
  • breach of contract

Within each section, there are text boxes where you can explain your situation. For the ITT Tech example, you would write “ITT lied about ITT’s programmatic accreditation in nursing” and “ITT engaged in widespread and widespread misrepresentation regarding students’ employability” in the text box under Educational Services or transfer the credit to “Employment Services and Credit.” in the box under the transfer category.

“You’re going to take that information and retype it because that’s probably what happened to you,” says Lewis, adding that the right language can make it easier for people processing applications to process your responses.

If you’re skeptical about starting the application, Lewis says, “These schools are in disrepute for illegal practices. They’re giving refunds for a lot of these schools, like a check in the mail if you attend.”

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