Students From These For-Profit Colleges May Qualify for Debt Forgiveness

The Biden administration has canceled student loan debt for borrowers who attended a handful of for-profit colleges. It also settled a class-action lawsuit that automatically approves 200,000 borrower defense claims against another 155 for-profit colleges.
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Updated on May 17, 2024
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  • The Department of Education has already canceled federal student debt for borrowers who attended Corinthian Colleges, ITT Tech, and Westwood Colleges.
  • The class-action settlement in Sweet v. Cardona cancels federal student loans for another 200,000 former students with borrower defense claims.
  • The settlement applies to 155 for-profit schools. Some of the listed schools made efforts to intervene in the settlement.

A settlement agreement in a class action lawsuit means students from 155 colleges and universities, mostly for-profit institutions, qualify for automatic debt forgiveness.

The Department of Education (ED) reached a settlement agreement with Harvard's Project on Predatory Student Lending in late June 2022, ending a three-year class action lawsuit. The Project on Predatory Lending filed the lawsuit after ED stopped adjudicating borrower defense claims under former Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and President Donald Trump.

Borrower defense claims allow student loan borrowers to apply for debt forgiveness if they can prove their college or university defrauded them while enrolled.

Groups representing some of the institutions listed in Sweet v. Cardona filed motions to intervene in the case in mid-July, 2022, claiming that the settlement could negatively harm the schools’ reputation and may disadvantage them in future borrower defense claims. After a lengthy legal battle, the judge overseeing the settlement ruled against these “intervenors” in March 2023 to allow the department to begin issuing debt relief.

The intervenors asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a final appeal on April 4, 2023.

Supreme Court Justice Elana Kagan denied the request for a stay nine days later.

true For-Profit College Student Loan Forgiveness List*

Alta Colleges (Westwood)

  • Westwood College

American Commercial Colleges

  • American Commercial College

American National University

  • American National University

Ana Maria Piña Houde and Marc Houde

  • Anamarc College

Anthem Education Group; International Education Corp.

  • Anthem College
  • Anthem Institute

Apollo Group

  • University of Phoenix
  • Western International University

ATI Enterprises

  • ATI Career Training Center
  • ATI College of Health
  • ATI Technical Training Center

B&H Education

  • Marinello School of Beauty

Berkeley Educ. Serv. of NY

  • Berkeley College

Bridgepoint Education

  • Ashford University
  • University of the Rockies

Capella Education Co.; Strategic Education

  • Capella University

Career Education Corp.

  • American InterContinental University
  • Briarcliffe College
  • Brooks College
  • Brooks Institute
  • Collins College
  • Colorado Technical University
  • Gibbs College
  • Harrington College of Design
  • International Academy of Design and Technology
  • Katharine Gibbs School
  • Le Cordon Bleu
  • Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts
  • Le Cordon Bleu Institute of Culinary Arts
  • Lehigh Valley College
  • McIntosh College
  • Missouri College
  • Pittsburgh Career Institute
  • Stanford-Brown College
  • Stanford-Brown Institute
  • Brown College
  • Brown Institute
  • Washington Business School
  • Allentown Business School
  • Western School of Health and Business Careers
  • Ultrasound Diagnostic Schools
  • School of Computer Technology
  • Al Collins Graphic Design School
  • Orlando Culinary Institute
  • Southern California School of Culinary Arts
  • California Culinary Academy
  • California School of Culinary Arts
  • Pennsylvania Culinary Institute
  • Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago
  • Scottsdale Culinary Institute
  • Texas Culinary Academy
  • Kitchen Academy
  • Western Culinary Institute

Center for Employment Training

  • Center for Employment Training

Center for Excellence in Higher Education

  • California College San Diego
  • CollegeAmerica
  • Independence University
  • Stevens-Henager

BEZ Corp.

  • Computer Systems Institute

Court Reporting Institute

  • Court Reporting Institute

Cynthia Becher

  • La’ James College of Hairstyling
  • La’ James International College

The Career Institute

  • American Career College
  • America Career Institute

Delta Career Education Corp.

  • McCann School of Business & Technology
  • Miami-Jacobs Career College
  • Miller-Motte Business College
  • Miller-Motte College
  • Miller-Motte Technical College
  • Tucson College

DeVry/Adtalem

  • American University of the Caribbean
  • Carrington College
  • Chamberlain University
  • DeVry College of Technology
  • DeVry Institute of Technology
  • DeVry University
  • Keller Graduate School of Management
  • Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine
  • Ross University School of Medicine

EDMC/Dream Center

  • Argosy University
  • The Art Institute
  • Brown Mackie College
  • The Illinois Institute of Art
  • Miami International University of Art & Design
  • The New England Institute of Art
  • South University
  • Western State University College of Law

Education Affiliates (JLL Partners)

  • All-State Career School
  • Fortis College
  • Fortis Institute

Edudyne Systems

  • Career Point College

Empire Education Group

  • Empire Beauty School

Everglades College

  • Everglades University
  • Keiser University

FastTrain

  • FastTrain

Globe Education Network

  • Globe University
  • Minnesota School of Business

Graham Holdings Co. (Kaplan)

  • Bauder College
  • Kaplan Career Institute
  • Kaplan College
  • Mount Washington College
  • Purdue University Global

Grand Canyon Education

  • Grand Canyon University

Infilaw Holding

  • Arizona Summit Law School
  • Charlotte School of Law
  • Florida Coast School of Law

International Education Corp.

  • Florida Career College
  • United Education Institute

ITT Educational Services

  • ITT Technical Institute

JTC Education

  • Gwinnett College
  • Medtech College
  • Radians College

Leeds Equity Partners V, L.P.

  • Florida Technical College
  • National University College
  • NUC University

Liberty Partners

  • Concorde Career College
  • Concorde Career Institute

Lincoln Educational Services Corp.

  • Lincoln College of Technology
  • Lincoln Technical Institute

Mark A. Gabis Trust

  • Daymar College

Mission Group Kansas

  • Wright Business School
  • Wright Career College

Lalit Chabria, Sam Hiranandaney

  • American College for Medical Careers
  • Branford Hall Career Institute
  • Hallmark Institute of Photography
  • Harris School of Business
  • The Institute for Health Education
  • Micropower Career Institute
  • Suburban Technical School
  • Salter College

Quad Partners

  • Beckfield College
  • Blue Cliff College
  • Dorsey College

Remington University; Remington College BCL

  • Remington College

Southern Technical Holdings

  • Southern Technical College

SC Academy Holding

  • Star Career Academy

Sullivan and Cogliano Training Center

  • Sullivan and Cogliano Training Centers

TCS Education System

  • Chicago School of Professional Psychology

Vatterott Educational Centers

  • Court Reporting Institute of St. Louis
  • Vatterott College

Wilfred American Education Corp.

  • Robert Fiance Beauty Schools
  • Robert Fiance Hair Design Institute
  • Robert Fiance Institute of Florida
  • Wilfred Academy
  • Wilfred Academy of Beauty Culture
  • Wilfred Academy of Hair & Beauty Culture

Willis Stein & Partners (ECA)

  • Brightwood Career Institute
  • Brightwood College
  • New England College of Business and Finance
  • Virginia College

*The Department of Education amended its list of institutions in August, stating in a court filing that four institutions were included due to a “clerical error.” Those institutions were ATI College, Missouri College of Cosmetology North, Hallmark University, and International Technical Institute. The department also added Missouri College to the settlement through that filing.

Under the settlement, ED expects approximately 200,000 former students from 155 institutions to qualify for automatic debt forgiveness. The department would decide another 64,000 pending claims "using standards favorable to the borrowers," according to the settlement.

Students who attended any of the above institutions with borrower defense claims pending as of June 22, 2022, qualify for complete forgiveness of any student debt tied to that institution.

Total Cancellation at Other For-Profits

The Sweet v Cardona case isn't the only way ED has granted widespread debt relief for student loan borrowers.

In instances involving high-profile for-profit systems, the department has offered cancellation for all students of the school, regardless of whether they filed a borrower defense claim or not. As of May 2024, ED says it has approved $28.7 billion in debt discharges for nearly 1.6 million borrowers through this process.

Most recently, the department wiped $6.1 billion in federal student loan debt for former Art Institute students. Students who attended any Art Institute campus between January 2004 and October 2017 qualify for automatic relief. The move impacted 317,000 borrowers.

ED also agreed to discharge $1.5 billion in student loan debt for 79,000 borrowers who attended any Westwood College school between Jan. 1, 2002 and Nov. 17, 2015.

The department announced in June that it canceled $5.8 billion in federal student loan debt belonging to former Corinthian Colleges students. That cancellation applies to those enrolled in any Corinthian Colleges-owned school between 1995 and 2015.

ED discharged another $3.9 billion in loan debt for former ITT Technical Institute students in August. It applies to 208,000 students who used those loans to attend ITT between Jan. 1, 2005 and its closure in September 2016.

The department also erased $37 million in debt for University of Phoenix students and $72 million for former Ashford University students.