Get Started By Telling Your Student Debt Story


Same here for you Ami!

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Hello from Florida, I finally got around to disputing my federal student loan. Thanks Debt Collective, I’ve been following you on Twitter. Hopefully it will work out with 2 degrees from ITT I can only find a job with the same pay as before I got my education under the GI Bill. The confirmation email for my Debt Collective was sent to junk mail so I marked it as not junk. I will let you know if my loan gets cancelled. Crossing my fingers.


Hey all. I currently have 114,569.95 in student loan debt. I went to the art institute of California in San Diego and graduated with a bachelors in graphic design. I feel that my life is consumed by debt and I don’t know what to do. I have been able to do income based payments but it’s getting harder and I have no money for myself after everything comes out of my account. These income based payments are not enough to cover the interest, yet I am paying more on student loans than I pay in rent. Choosing to go to AI is one of my biggest regrets in life and I wish I had listened to my parents who told me not to do it. I was 19 and wanted to start my life and follow my passion for art. I was told that I was almost guaranteed to find a job that would pay me enough to pay off these loans and I fell for it. While I am one of the lucky ones to actually work in my field of interest, there is NO way that any graphic design job will allow me to pay off this huge loan. After some research I learned about the DTR option and am working to apply for this, but I am unsure what I should put in this and if it’s even worth my time. Any advice or guidance would be greatly appreciated. Thank you all and good luck on your journeys.


All you really need is to write your story that highlights the fraud that you encountered while enrolled. If you go on to the borrower defense website you can see the questions that they will ask. I recommend filling out the answers on a separate Word document because the website will time out.

I am a person that is compelled to be very extra so i submitted a lot of documentation. There is not a limit to what you can submit. You can include documents such as proof of enrollment in the form of your degree or transcripts or both. You can include your financial Ledger. You can include career placement statistics from your time of enrollment. The art institute has all of that information online on on the way back machine. So you can find career placement statistics from the early 2000s through I believe 2013 is when they stopped publicizing them online. But they’re all misleading and fraudulent on the website with numbers as high as 100% for some degree programs for career placement and most campuses show above 90% career placement for all majors.
Other things you can include would be emails and correspondence with folks at the school and anything you think could demonstrate a pattern.

But none of it is really necessary because the fraud was systemic and there is already a ton of evidence out there to support this including thousands of other testimonies from former students who have filed their claims. That said, I still submitted everything for my own peace of mind.

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The borrower defense is also nice because your loans can get put into administrative forbearance which does not count against your normal forbearance or deferment and if your ibr isn’t low it can help save money every month while the claim is investigated. Plus with the administrative forbearance you aren’t legitimizing the fraud by paying the debt. Which is where my mindset is right now. I do not want to legitimize this debt.


Hi all!

I’m Lisa, and I’m a former student of Ai Atlanta. I lost track of how much I owe exactly (most likely over $100k), and at first I thought my inability to make the loan payments was due to my own setbacks. First, I found Alan Collinge from Student Loan Justice, who earmarked some horror stories from Sallie Mae (my lender at the time), and then I discovered it might not be just me.

It was a relief to find the I Am AI group, and since I’ve been more than appreciative of the support and information from the group.

I live in constant anxiety because of the debt. Does anyone else feel dread when the phone rings, or when you check the mail? I do. All I get are collector calls and debt collection mail cause I really can’t afford the debt. It’s an all to similar story with many of us.

There are way too many news articles, threads, forums, and student debt groups to think this isn’t a problem. It was fraud and usury.



My name is Krys. Short for (Krysta.) I currently have just under $20,000.00 in student debt. My story is kinda tricky though because i bounced around a bit in the beginning of my college career…

You see I started attending The International Academy of Technology and Design at the end of 2012. I was studying Graphic Design and and a very young adult at the time (19 years old) and being the first person in my family to apply for college none of my family really knew what to look for or more importantly what to avoid when looking at schools.

It wasn’t until late 2013 that we all got an email from the school talking of something called a “Teach Out” after the entire school has some “town hall meetings” we all pretty much understood what a teach out was and i had already told myself that I wanted no part of it. For me it was the fact that there was only one campus in the state of Michigan and if they closed that campus even in 4 years time what would I tell employers down the road? “Oh yeah I went to this school for my degree but they went out of business… but don’t worry i’m still really good at what I do?” I don’t think so.

So I transferred to a different art school literally .5 miles down the road, called The Art Institutes. I called them and made an appointment to come in and talk to them. The day I got there must have been a slow day, the front office was empty except me and the receptionist. The walls were covered in art and it looks very welcoming, very high class. I was taken back to an office and sat down. I told them what was going on with IADT (my original school) and they said that they had been getting a lot of students transferring from them and that if I transferred today they would waive their application fee and get e started in classes as soon as the next semester AND that I would be able to graduate SOONER than if I stayed there.

All of my previous credit from the past year transferred completely I would not need to retake any classes and somehow they gave me more credits than i had earned stating that some of their classes were the same as two of this school classes and that I shouldn’t need to take this class because I had technically already taken it. (blah blah blah.)

So I transferred to The Art Institutes of Troy Michigan. I completed two more years there and figured out how they told me I could finish my degree “sooner” they had meant for me to take online classes. I don’t do online classes. I have only ever taken 2 online classes in my college career and I have only ever failed two classes in my college career. In order for me to finish my degree they told me I would have to go to the Novi campus which was 30+ miles away. At this point I was fed up with being in school so i agreed. I was enrolled in the Novi campus as well as the Troy campus.

It should be noted that in this time I was denied for Stafford loans. Why? I couldn’t tell you. That’s what they kept telling me so thats what I believed. too young and too naive to know better, to ask more questions. So I did what they told me I should do… I took out parent plus loans. This is what keeps me up at night, this is what kills me slowly from the inside out. My father who would take a bullet for me in a heart beat, who worked his hands to the bone for me and my sisters and my mother his entire life, the strongest man I know took out student loans for me. This; this is how they fucked me over. Even if i die, the loans remain on his credit. He was unable to refinance his house, unable to finance putting a new roof on the house, unable to approved for a car loan when his car was totaled… all because of me. He co-signed on all my loans which means they can never be discharged, not even if I die. Kind of a fucked up way to say “I love you” to my father.

Well I graduated in 2016 after a mess of a school “experience” with a Bachelors of Fine Arts from the Art Institutes. After they too closed their troy campus and forced all the students to the Novi campus. I did it though. It is now 2019. I have given up on my dream of being a Graphic Designer. I have sent out over 300 applications, and resumes. I have attended over 100 interviews. Followed up with them I did my due diligence, but never got a call back. I have worked in retail at Khols, I have sold cable service in Sams Club, and now I work with animals which is my true passion.

I want to take a moment to thank The Art Institutes for my piece of paper and clinical depression.

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Hi-- I’m Aron and I was tricked by the Art Institute of California San Francisco in attending their first graduating class of MFA-Animation students. I’m stuck with more than $90,000 of student debt inflated with interest from those two years.

I had graduated with a BFA from SCAD but was unable to find work in several months, I now realize that was partly due to my location in the Northeast. AiCA-SF was listed as one of only 3 schools in the country at the time that were offering an MFA in Animation. The recruiter told me I was not getting work because I needed more education and that I should go to their school. They pressured me to apply and attend, and I believed them. I believed them that I would not get a job in the industry unless I went back to school. I was accepted and in 2006, my mother and I drove more than 3200 miles from the Northeast all the way to San Francisco.

When we arrived there, the staff panicked. I had shown up as scheduled to start school, and they didn’t have anything in the program ready. They literally had nothing ready. None of the other students they had accepted had a background in animation, and they were scrambling to teach them basics like drawing, and Maya software.

To try to appease me and my mum, they said they would put me in two classes, and put me in the dorm. I sat through a number of months of refresher classes for what I had already learned and graduated from SCAD with. I was forced to live with 3 freshman undergrads in a crowded apartment that the school was calling their student living space. So EXPENSIVE and awful.

As time passed, I was trying to learn and it was hampered by inadequate facilities, and the fact that nothing was ready. Everything was ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ because the school’s administration HAD NO CLUE WHAT THEY WERE DOING. I was in multiple classes to build a flash website for a portfolio (which was foolish because Flash was outdated, and no apple mobile device would display flash based sites). The structure of the entire program felt soft, and unplanned.

I ultimately graduated after 2 years. Nobody would hire me, and I moved to Los Angeles, and started from scratch. I worked retail for 4 years while re-teaching myself art. My friend taught me flash animation, and I got my foot in the door of a small studio four years after getting to LA, and after another 7 months after that first studio job ending, I was hired as a designer for apps. I’m still working, but not a damn thing I do is the result of going to AI.

I was told job placement was excellent, I was told I would have support finding work. I was told getting that MFA would get me a job at Pixar, or Dreamworks, or Disney. None of it was true. I had to teach myself everything and I only got a job because of that.

Ai lied to me. They lied to the other couple of people in the program with me. They incessantly called and called and called trying to get me to decide to enroll. Once I had been accepted they incessantly called me to get me to accept and send the fees. Loan after loan after loan was added on top to pay for this sham school. My mother cosigned, she’s on several of my student loans.

I’m currently over $90,000 in student debt from 2 years of craaaaap at AiCA-SF. Not one damned thing I do at my job is something I learned there. They tossed around phony baloney numbers, and tantalizing studio names and promised I’d have all the support I’d need and I’d land a high paying job.

I work full time at an excellent job, and I have to throw most of my paychecks at student loans where the interest isn’t even covered by payments. The interest piles on, and I can’t pay anything down. I’ve been working my good job for 6.5 years and I’ve made no student debt progress. Hundreds a month gets tossed down the bottomless pit. This needs to stop. I’m 36 and I’ve never been able to afford a car.

Ai gripped on my hopes and dreams and fears like a bear trap and never let go. They preyed upon my dreams and fears to manipulate me into going to their school AND THEY DIDN’T EVEN HAVE IT READY. They harassed until I gave in, and built me up with excitement, and then the rug was pulled out from under me. I was left woefully unprepared and all those loans they stacked up.

UPDATE: I looked through the government student loan site and found out why my student loans from my BFA were marked as “paid”- my mother had us go through consolidation. The $160,000+ falling under Ai years was due to that, so some is from my BFA elsewhere. It does not list the private loans taken out so the $90,000+ I know for sure is Ai is likely to go up past $110,000

I’m shocked that 2 years of Ai school still cost that much and the loans from BFA didn’t get that high in 3 years of attendance after transfer in from fine arts school.



First and foremost, I know it’s been almost 3 years since I’ve been involved with the DC community, as well as the FB groups associated with it, but here goes:

Greetings, one and all - it is I, Karbia Yuan (a recent alum of the ill-fated and “already-liquidated-to-
extinction” New England Institute of Art*, majoring in the Bachelor of Science program in Digital Film & Video Production), and I have been plagued with student loan debt, thanks to the combined efforts of EDMC, Navient (formerly Sallie Mae) and their affiliates. Despite my abilities to apply for any and all gigs - short-term, freelance, what have us - not to mention my cast-iron intent on repaying said debt, which I distinctly remember succeeding in once not long after my graduation (notwithstanding how much more I owe), in tandem with other crucial-yet-nerve-wracking bills…the reality of it all is that there’s no way for me whatsoever to fully meet aforementioned aim; hence why I’m reduced to starting a “semi-clandestine, one-man entrepreneurship (revolving around filmmaking, video-sharing, research, comedy/improv, marketing and everything-in-between)”.

For quite some time now (approximately 4 years - if less)…in spite of my recent success at graduating from my alma mater, and especially acquiring my diploma indicating said triumph, it doesn’t change the fact that I was looking forward to continuing on with grad school. Speaking of, after completing my Emerson application and following through with their crucial requirements - as it turns out, the courses they offered were full-time only (regardless of which field I decided on - be it Theatre or Visual & Media Arts)…and to make matters worse, my landlady for Hallkeen Management stated that I should only attend part-time classes - none of which Emerson offered whatsoever. Henceforth, I’m still swimming in the same direction-varied career-hunting void within which I still occupy, toughing it out in the real world, one day at a time (if longer)…so far, the 3 most legitimate paid gigs I’ve been involved with thus far (not counting any freelance work) were as follows: the portrayal of 2 military-type characters in the stage musical adaptation of a Polish children’s book produced & managed by 2 Russian-Americans on behalf of the Jewish Music & Theatre Enterprise (King Matiusz I), the promotion of a health-and-nutrition-themed Australian-created comic series at a health conference in costume as the leader of its main 5-unit group (Medikidz), and the appearance as an extra “marathon fan” in the recently-released Stronger with Jake Gyllenhaal (one of 2 films based on the infamous Boston Marathon Bombing, with the other titled Patriots Day featuring Mark Wahlberg). And to top it off, I’ve even been involved with Immersive Entertainment’s annual horror-themed “Ghost Ship Harbor” attraction for the last 2 or 3 years (despite the previous year being shot due to a fire having broken out), located aboard the decommissioned battleship, USS Salem, in Quincy’s Fore River - thereby extending my acting experience to a degree.

It was right then and there - by “then and there,” meaning my acquisition of the 3 checks I earned for these previously-addressed role-based gigs, that is - when I realized the importance of saving notwithstanding my usual financial sources (namely, my monthly allowance via a relative of mine), of which I have a farfetched, uncanny-as-sin knack for dismissing and neglecting to take to heart.
My main, bottom-line points (which, by the way, I fail very miserably at times attempting to make; let alone striving to make any sense out of any issue regardless of my efforts):

Always be vigilant when it comes to managing and saving expenses

Make sure your desired career (temporary, full-time or otherwise) matches your expertise depending on your desired field

Never let any greedy, corporate collector and/or educational franchise take advantage of you, and most importantly…

If all else fails, STAND UP AND FIGHT BACK - which, not surprisingly, I’ve been improving on even before graduating - amongst other objectives.

*If they’re reading this - I’m looking at YOU, Brock & Tran! (Pointless show of arrogance aside…)


Hi everyone… My name is Kim. I went into debt with the Art Institute several years ago, when I fell for their promise of having an amazing career if only I could obtain my Bachelor’s degree in photography. I was burnt out from nursing, passionate about my photography, they were offering me easy financing and creative classes - it really was the perfect storm. Every time I went onto any type of creative website, their ads would pop up. I made the mistake of calling one time, and their admission counselor (I have his name somewhere) was contacting me 2-3 times a day trying to talk me into attending! Promises of a fulfilling career as a photographer. Over, and over and over, until I bit.

The first year was fun. I was taking photographs, and having fun showing them to other students. However, the further I went along with my classes, I started to get the impression something was wrong. I had complained about something odd in the course work to another student and the school threatened to expel me, sending me an email that it was against their policy for me to talk to another student negatively about AI, even though that’s not even what happened.

A couple of years into the program, I was notified by my advisor that I could not finish the Bachelor degree track because of a small “financial aid funding issue”… They told me I had “maxed out” with EDMC. This left me scrambling, knowing then I made a huge mistake. My plan was to get a Bachelors degree in photography so that I could work with a local newspaper as an editor who had the Bachelor degree component listed as a requirement. This was the only way I was going to escape nursing. An Associates degree in photography was never what I planned on, because it had absolutely no value for me. They did this with ALL of the AI students - took as much money as they could until they could no longer take it - then forced us into GRADUATION with a lesser degree (of course this made the college look better because it increased their graduation rates). I was also told I would have to pay huge fines to get back in, which forced me down that path.

So, not only was I quite a few courses short of my Bachelor’s degree (and no way to fund it), but also needed to come up with my own financing (aka I drained my savings account) to fund enough to at least get my Associates Degree before walking away from AI. When it was all said and done, I ended up with over $60k in debt, for an Associates degree in photography - and 27 ADDITIONAL CREDITS that I did not need to finish the program. Unfortunately that degree is essentially worthless. I didn’t realize at the time that ANY degree from AI is deemed useless - this is not a respected college in terms of accreditation or training, but I did not know that at the time.

While the course did teach me how to use my DSLR, I could have gotten that information online with a free youtube video. AI also did this to me, a family member (who was also attending AI the same time), and all of the students I was going to school with (we have all kept in touch). We had all signed up on the Bachelor’s degree track, but were forced into leaving AI early, and pursuing the lesser (Associates degree) instead . We were all given the same reason, that EDMC had max’d out on our student loans - basically they milked us while they could. Extremely deceptive! They willingly took our money KNOWING we would never finish what we started. The degree is worthless, and unfortunately even while I am making steady payments on my account, the amount I have due went from just over $60k to almost $90k now due to interest! I have no idea how I am ever supposed to pay this off. On a sad note, I am 55 years old and have no idea how I will ever retire. You know, I spent my entire life taking care of others as a Registered nurse. I truly care about people. I had no problem paying for my nursing degree, but this degree from AI was 100% useless, and is not right. I have I just hope someone out there who is reading this can help us out now.


HI Ami Whats IBR? I hear you on wanting to illegitamizing the debt by not paying but if i get denied its double jeopardy with the unpaid loan plus interest.


Any interest that accrues after the first year of being on administrative forbearance gets cancelled at the end if your claim is denied. Ibr means income based repayment

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I know what you mean by the page timing out, the thing is i dont know if i should delete it and start over because i must of uploaded the same 2 documents 100x because it doesnt say whats been uploaded, how or what did you mean by writing it in another word document. I been working on it for 3 days and im losing my mind i got so much on my mind i have a hard time focusing its been getting to me. I wanna make sure i do this right because i feel like this is my 1 shot at righting this. That wayback site is amazing but unfortunately i couldnt find much incriminating stuff on there.


Since the page times out you could type your answers in a word document and then copy and paste them into the application so that you have your answers saved if it times out and dont need to re-write them over and over


Thank you, thats what im on ATM. Thats good news on the forebearance interest.


Thats what i tbought you meant, thank you!

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You can add more documents after you submit your initial application so don’t stress about that part of it. :slight_smile:

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I always worked labor type jobs, didnt mind them, but i always had an intsrest in the medical field. My 1st son was born in 2007. The joy of hearing and seeing my son on ultrasound was the best day of my life. The heartbeat, and even the funny notes of the tech pointing out his boy parts with little arrows and text left me really appreciating the ultrasound tech. At this point of my life i was working outdoors operating a forklift in a lumberyars that was up on a hill. The sun was brutal in the summer, and everything froze in the winter. After 2 years of getting burnt and chiseling apart pieces of frozen lumber from the unit in the winter i had had enough. My wife had also had enough of me being unhappy with my job. So she told me to go back to school. So i decides to give this medical stuff another shot(i was a community health major in kingsborough community college in Brooklyn) so i decided i want to be an ultrasound tech. I met with 3 different schools. Sanford brown was the 1st school i visited. The issue there was it was a bit of a commute and they werent accredited. Then i went to dutchess CC and they didnt have an ultrasound tech program but they had an expedited but difficult RN program so i kept looking. I went to Ridley Lowell. They told me they were accredited (they lost their accreditation in 2016 probably because of how lousy of a school it was) and that they have a great externship program, job placement help and lifetime resources. They told me that they didnt have the ultrasound program up and running yet, but Debbie the director of admissions pulled out a huge folder and said that those were all the people that signed up to be an ultrasound tech. She told me if i sign up for the medical assistant program it would be a prerequisite into their ultrasound program. But i had to sign up right away because the classes were filling up!! Long story short, they never got the ultrasound program together, they closed in April 2018, and im back working outdoors because working as an MA didnt pay enough to support a family of 4 and 2 dogs. Last year i filed for bankruptcy, and the reason im fighting this now is because i stumbled upon an old email (2009)that detailed everything i wrote here and plan to use it as ammo. I always knew they duped me but i couldnt ever prove it, it was just my word against theirs. So now im looking to hear how people got their loans discharged and also trying to help ppl get their loans discharged by sharing this info. My loan was 13k after financial aid, now its at 17k. That school was trash, some of the teachers were really out of their minds, specifically Donna Lyons, i would not be surprised at all if shes in the nut house.

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Hi everyone! I just want to say a few words
Little back ground , I went to Everest in 2013,
I too was taken advantage of and had huge loans from Corinthians, they preyed on me and took advantage of my DREAM. They took advantage of my eagerness to learn and better myself, all while the Dept, Of Education allowed them. Their hands just as dirty.

Iback in 2016 almost 17 I got my loans discharged,
Only because , I COLLECTIVELY organized with this Group Debt Collective. These amazing organizers and the many other former students who stroked their debt and put in the work and made those calls, sent those letters ect, it payed off, It Works. Although the fight still continues and I stand strong with you,

I ask you to KEEP fighting and don’t give up, trust in the effort you put in. If I gave up I wouldn’t be here debt free, it took me almost 3 years. It was the best 3 years of my life.
I am Educated and powerful ! Our voices can be heard and they WILL.
Keep fighting y’all, it works.
#solidarity :fist:t4:


My name is Pam
I was sold “the dream” of a better life by furthering my education,by the constant ads and phone calls from Everest University, formerly florida metropolitan university and so I did. However, I’m now in a worse position financially than i ever was. The “dream” is currently unattainable for me, because I now have a worthless master’s degree and about $156,000 worth of student loan debt! with $48,000 in interest for a grand total of $204,000. They (Corinthian College Inc.)engaged in predatory behavior and fraudulent practices.They were able to declare bankruptcy and get away scott free" however I’m responsible for payment of a degree that is totally useless and not accepted by any reputable company worth being employed with.I want loan forgiveness /debt discharge!!!