Ineligibility notice re: borrow defense application

Hi there,
Not sure what to do or who to ask, but need support with receiving an ineligibility notice due to dubious reasons. Has anyone else received an ineligibility notice from the DOE that is unclear why you are ineligible? I originally placed this claim through a Debt Collective portal that assisted with applications.

I’m very confused on whether I need to file a new claim or how to review the claim I made – and on top of that, I no longer have any “evidence” to support my claim as I lost these digital documents (which included false job placement statistics the school I attended used to publish on their website.)

This is the letter I received below. Any help at all sincerely appreciated! Thank you!!!

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) has completed its review of your application under the applicable Borrower Defense to Repayment regulations for discharge of your William D. Ford Federal Direct Loans (Direct Loans) made in connection with your or your child’s enrollment at Savannah College of Art and Design. ED has determined that your application is ineligible for relief based on review of the facts of your claim and the regulatory criteria for relief; this decision means that your Direct Loans will not be discharged. ED explains the reasons below.
Applicable Law
For Direct Loans first disbursed prior to July 1, 2017, a borrower may be eligible for a discharge (forgiveness) of part or all of one or more Direct Loans if the borrower’s school engaged in acts or omissions that would give rise to a cause of action against the school under applicable state law. See § 455(h) of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, 20 U.S.C. § 1087e(h), and 34 C.F.R. § 685.206© and 685.222 (the Borrower Defense regulations). ED recognizes a borrower’s defense to repayment of a Direct Loan only if the cause of action directly relates to the Direct Loan or to the school’s provision of educational services for which the Direct Loan was provided. 34 C.F.R. §§685.206©(1), 685.222(a)(5); U.S. Department of Education, Notice of Interpretation, 60 Fed. Reg. 37,769 (Jul. 21, 1995).
Why was my application determined to be ineligible?
ED reviewed your borrower defense claim based on any evidence submitted by you in support of your application, your loan data from the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS®), and evidence provided by other borrowers.

Allegation 1: Other
You allege that Savannah College of Art and Design engaged in misconduct related to Other. This claim fails for the following reason(s): Failure to State a Legal Claim

Your claim for relief on this basis therefore is denied.
Allegation 2: Other
You allege that Savannah College of Art and Design engaged in misconduct related to Other. This claim fails for the following reason(s): Failure to State a Legal Claim

Your claim for relief on this basis therefore is denied.
Allegation 3: Educational Services
You allege that Savannah College of Art and Design engaged in misconduct related to Educational Services. This claim fails for the following reason(s): Failure to State a Legal Claim

Your claim for relief on this basis therefore is denied.
Allegation 4: Employment Prospects
You allege that Savannah College of Art and Design engaged in misconduct related to Employment Prospects. This claim fails for the following reason(s): Insufficient Evidence

Your claim for relief on this basis therefore is denied.
What if I do not agree with this decision?
If you disagree with this decision, you may ask ED to reconsider your application. To submit a request for reconsideration, please send an email with the subject line “Request for Reconsideration ref:_00Dt0Gyiq._500t0DPL60:ref” to BorrowerDefense@ed.gov or mail your request to U.S. Department of Education, P.O. Box 1854, Monticello, KY 42633. In your Request for Reconsideration, please provide the following information:
Why you believe that ED decided incorrectly your borrower defense to repayment claim; and

Identify and provide any evidence that demonstrates why ED should approve your borrower defense to repayment claim under the applicable law set forth above.
ED will not accept any Request for Reconsideration that includes new allegations. If you wish to assert allegations that were not included in your application, please see the following section. Additionally, your loans will not be placed into forbearance during the reconsideration process. Failure to begin or resume repayment will result in collection activity, including administrative wage garnishment, offset of state and federal payments you may be owed, and litigation. For more information about the reconsideration process, please contact our borrower defense hotline at 1-855-279-6207 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern time (ET) on Monday through Friday.
Can I apply for borrower defense if I have additional claims?
If you wish to file a new application regarding acts or omissions by the school other than those described in borrower defense application 01329690, please submit an application at StudentAid.gov/borrower-defense. In the new application, you should explain in the relevant section(s) the basis for any new borrower defense claim(s) and submit all supporting evidence.
What should I do now?
Because your borrower defense to repayment application was found to be ineligible, you are responsible for repayment of your loans. ED will notify your servicer(s) of the decision on your borrower defense to repayment application within the next 15 calendar days, and your servicer will contact you within the next 30 to 60 calendar days to inform you of your loan balance. Further, if any loan balance remains, the loans will return to their status prior to the submission of your application. If your loans were in forbearance as a result of your borrower defense to repayment application, the servicer will remove those loans from forbearance.

If your loans are in default and are currently in stopped collections, your loans will be removed from stopped collections. Failure to begin or resume repayment could result in collection activity such as administrative wage garnishment, offset of state and federal payments that you may be owed, and litigation.

While normally interest would not be waived for unsuccessful borrower defense applications, given the extended period of time it took ED to complete the review of this application, the Secretary is waiving any interest that accrued on your Direct Loans from the date of the filing of your borrower defense application to the date of this notification. Your servicer will provide additional information in the coming months regarding the specific amount of interest adjusted.
What if I have another pending borrower defense application?
If you have additional pending borrower defense to repayment applications, this information applies to you:
If your loans associated with an additional borrower defense to repayment application that is still pending are in forbearance or another status that does not require you to make payments, your loans will remain in forbearance or that other status. Similarly, if your loans associated with that borrower defense application are in default and you are currently in stopped collections, those loans will remain in stopped collections.

If you are unsure if you have additional pending applications, or if you would like to check on the status of your loans associated with an additional application, contact our borrower defense hotline at 1-855-279-6207 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET on Monday through Friday.
ED offers a variety of loan repayment options, including the standard 10-year repayment plan, as well as extended repayment, graduated repayment, and income-driven repayment plans. For more information about student loan repayment options, visit StudentAid.gov/plans. If you have questions about the status of your loans or questions about repayment options, please contact your servicer(s). If you do not know the name of your federal loan servicer, you may go to My Federal Student Aid to find your servicer and view your federal loan information.

Sincerely,

U.S. Department of Education
Federal Student Aid

3 Likes

Hi @moniker, I think you may have just emailed me with all of this info and I responded.

Hopefully that info was helpful for the time being. Let me know if there is more we can do to support you.

-Thomas

1 Like

Yea I received the same BS email, I think Betsy is just hitting deny without even looking at them.

1 Like

I just got the email today. I went to Everest College Online. I think I applied for Borrower Defense to repayment back in 2015 with other Corinthian College students.
I’m confused that a reason for my denial was my failure to state a legal claim. That doesn’t make sense because if that was the reason it shouldn’t have taken so long to make a decision.

2 Likes

All I received the same letter as well. I went to Everest College as well while I was on active duty and was told I did not qualify as well.

1 Like

Hi @CLH and @meadoman,

The lawyers at Harvard’s Project on Predatory Student Lending have created an FAQ for folks in your situation: Borrower Defense FAQ | Predatory Student Lending

Bottomline is that there will probably be a legal case to challenge these denials that is in the works, but these cases take a long time to put together and to work their way through the courts.

If both of you want to forward your denial notification from FSA to me at thomas@debtcollective.org I can forward them along to Harvard. If you have your original borrower defense to repayment application please send that too (if you don’t have it that is okay).

@CLH, the “failure to state a legal claim” is just a total BS automated response from the Department of Education. The truth is the only thing they are looking at to determine who is getting denied and who is getting at least some debt cancelled is which program/school you attended and the dates you attended. The Department already knows that Everest violated the law as a matter of standard business practice. They are just doing everything they can to deny people their rights. The hope is that what they are doing will not stand up to a legal challenge in court.

In the meantime due to COVID-19 most student debts are being suspended for six months. More info about that here: What the CARES Act Means for Repayment of Federal Student Loans - Student Loan Borrowers Assistance

In the meantime we need to organize to win full cancelation. Please join the student debt strike if you haven’t already, and tell everyone you know who has student debt to join it too: strike.debtcollective.org

Call your Senators and Representative and demand that they support legislation to cancel all student debt and make public universities free to attend moving forward. Tell them that any future stimulus MUST include mass student debt cancellation. We have six months to organize and win. Let’s not waste this opportunity! Organizing to win College For All

1 Like

I too received this letter last week. I have a phone conference set up with a lawyer that works for legal aid in the San Francisco area. (HERA). They helped me originally fill out my borrowers defense paperwork 2 and 1/2 years ago.
I will update after I speak with them.
Denise

Thank you for letting us know!

Same here - received “Failure to State a Legal Claim” on all counts via email. It seems like they’ve been forced to answer, and are predictably just denying everyone…?

Interested to see if anyone finds a way to address this BS…

@moniker I also went to SCAD and have loans. I am curious what proof you submitted that got this response?

Also quite a few people have been seeing their credit report debt going up and down. There is definitely stuff going on with this that we need to be paying attention to.

I talked with a lawyer a few days ago and she is seeing that most, if not all the denial letters are word for word identical. She is helping me rework my claim and then I am going to appeal the denial. It appears that the dept of Education is just blanket denying all the claims and not bothering to investigate at all.
I also submitted my denial information to the Harvard student loan justice portal that was mentioned above.
She did tell me that I should immediately fill out my income statement with Great Lakes do that I don’t fall into sort of default with them. I am already getting letters from them.

1 Like

I’ll be doing the following this week. As per Harvard’s page:

  1. I have a Direct Loan and I received a denial of my borrower defense application. What are my options?

You can submit a request for reconsideration if you want to challenge the denial. There is no deadline, and your loan will go into repayment or back into default (which could include the taking of your tax refund or wages) while the Department considers your request for reconsideration. (See Question 15 below for information to help you with repayment or getting out of default). Please note that the Department is saying that it will NOT put loans in forbearance while a reconsideration is pending.

If you decide to submit a request for reconsideration, you should ask for information about the reasons for the denial. You should also ask for the documents and evidence the Department used in deciding your borrower defense application. This is particularly important if the denial did not include a detailed explanation of the basis for the decision.

In addition, you should explain why the denial was wrong, including evidence supporting your application. This can be new evidence if you have any. The Department has said you cannot make new allegations without submitting a new borrower defense application, but you can provide new evidence to support the claims you made in the original application. You do not have to include new evidence. In these circumstances, you should explain why the evidence and information you previously submitted is grounds for an approval.

You should send the request for reconsideration by email or regular mail and keep a copy. The Department has not provided a specific form to fill out. You should be sure to write your name, contact information, and the borrower defense application number listed on the denial. You can call the borrower defense hotline at 855-279-6207 (open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET Monday through Friday) if you have more than one borrower defense application to make sure you are listing the correct number.

You should send the reconsideration by email to: BorrowerDefense@ed.gov or by regular mail to U.S. Department of Education, P.O. Box 1854, Monticello, KY 42633.

Please save all communications (emails and letters) from the Department of Education, including any decision on your borrower defense application, for your records.

If anyone asks for detail (as mentioned above) and gets a reply as to what their generic denials mean, please share?

@Dan_W & @Denise_J_Kent

My own sense is that you can certainly try to submit a request for reconsideration, but I personally don’t hold much hope for that option. It seems like the Department is going to try to get away with denying as many people as they can get away with denying. The most hopeful path to success will be the larger class based legal actions that folks like Harvard will eventually be able to mount, but it will be a long process. If we end up dealing with a different administration next year that would also give more hope for more discharges through DTR. I’d pour energies into making that happen.

Otherwise I think our other paths to full discharge are more fruitful, including organizing to get debt cancelled as a part of COVID related stimulus, a different administration we can fight against and get better results with, and College For All legislation.

If we are still dealing with DeVos next year the courts will likely force her to discharge more debt that she would prefer, but not as much as the law and justice requires. But a request for reconsideration will get denied more easily than the first DTR got denied I’m afraid.

@Thomas_Gokey I appreciate that.

Sure, but debt cancellation doesn’t mean much for me, and I don’t know if I have any other options. I went to Keller to try and jump-start my career into IT management, and the benefits of the degree / claims of future earning potential I was sold on never materialized / the degree made zero difference.

I had to put personal savings and retirement savings on hold for 10 years to pay off $50K in student loans, and my earnings progression continued on the same path it had been on if I had never gone to Keller at all solely on my own work and willingness to better myself on my own after Keller.

So I’m out $50K and where I would have been anyway in 2020. Not only that - but now I’m 10 years behind on family savings and retirement, as well as missing out on the incredible returns for the last 10 years my retirement accounts would have had.

So there’s no debt for me to cancel - just well over $50K of opportunity and 10 years of time lost. I asked for the original $50K because the basis it was paid on turned out to be blatantly and intentionally false - and at least it’s something to help recover my financial life, even if it’s 30% or so what it would be today if Keller hadn’t sold me on their schooling.

BoE gave me the same denial as everyone else, though.

@Dan_W I’m not sure if this is good news or bad news, but even if your DTR had been approved, you wouldn’t have gotten your money back.

The DTRs are discharging remaining debts. There are a few rare exceptions where people are getting small partial refunds, but those are for special circumstances about how their DTR was handled, not past payments made before the DTR was filed.

I’m sorry that all of this happened to you. It makes me furious. Let’s fight to make sure it never happens to anyone else.

What I am confused about is that it is being suggested we resubmit our claims but what is THE “proper legal claim”? If all of the documentation that we have all submitted against these schools- schools who have already been found at fault and have had confirmed legal action taken against them- what else can we say? I wish I could find somewhere this “proper legal claim” lingo and I would be all over resubmitting. One of my claims was against University of Phoenix. I find yesterday that they settled in Dec 2019 $141 million dollar claim and if you attended from 2012-2017 ?? you were able to get your loans dismissed. I graduated in 2009… are we supposed to be believe they were upstanding in 2009 but became deceptive in 2012?? What about the negative effects to my degree now on my resume? When applying for a job will the hiring manager look at where I went and think that my degree is “less than” because the school has admitted to charges and agreed on settlements. It is so frustrating to not have a voice or resources to fight any of this… I just don’t know what to do anymore. :frowning:

I think it is important for people to understand how this process is really working, rather than how it is supposed to work in some ideal world where the law and facts actually matter.

The only thing the Department of Education is looking at when someone submits a DTR is the program of study they attended at a particular school, and they dates they were there. That is literally it. The rest of the paperwork they are making you fill out is just window dressing. It literally doesn’t matter. You could submit a photo of the president of your school holding up a big sign that says “we are defrauding our students” and it wouldn’t matter.

The Department of Education already has a list of programs/schools and dates for programs that were previously found to violate the law. This was done largely through state-led investigations by AG offices, but some was Department findings from the previous administrations. DeVos & Trump would love nothing more than to deny everyone’s claim, but they can’t deny the claims for the people who attended programs that courts or the Department have already determined violated the law. So that is all they are looking at. The program you attended and the dates you were there. If that is on their list of lawbreaking programs/dates, you get at least some debt discharged. If not, they are denying the claims outright without caring at all if what you are telling them is true.

That is how this works folks. This is all about power.

They are going to try to get away with it. There will be legal challenges that work their way through the courts over the next several years. With luck, those will result in some additional discharges as the courts force the Department of Education to abide by the law to a greater degree than they currently are. But this will be a long process and a very imperfect result. Not everyone will get their debts discharged that way.

What we need to do is see DTR for what it is. It is a limited tool, that we have used to the greatest extent we can, against people who are working in bad faith who have a TON of power to ignore the law and ignore the facts and get away with it.

If we are really going to win discharges for everyone we need to think beyond the DTR process. We need to organize and build power, enough power to force mass cancelation for everyone through.

That is going to take a ton of time and a ton of work. But we can totally do it and we can win. No one is going to save us except ourselves.

I really appreciate the candid honesty. Hard to hear and face but certainly appreciated!