College grads refusing to pay back their debt met with the Education Department -- here's what happened

Screen Shot 2015 04 03 at 11.28.02 AMScreenshotMallory Heiney is a member of the Corinthian 100 and refuses to pay back her student loans.

The Corinthian 100 — a group of 100 college grads refusing to pay back their student loans — visited Washington, D.C. this week and got a meeting with senior officials at the Education Department.

Those indebted grads are asking the Education Department to extinguish the debt of former students of Corinthian Colleges, a for-profit college chain that has had major financial troubles.

Grads gave details at that meeting about their experiences with Corinthian, which has been sued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for allegedly misleading students and running an “illegal predatory lending scheme.”

They spoke about being near homelessness and being unable to settle down due to their crushing student loan debt, according to Ann Larson, an organiser at the The Debt Collective, who was at the meeting.

The meeting in Washington on Tuesday was the first opportunity for the Corinthian 100 to argue their case to the DOE — the only department that has jurisdiction to extinguish their federal loan debt. That would cost the agency an estimated $US1.5 billion.

Ted Mitchell, Under Secretary of Education, and Jeff Appel, Deputy Under Secretary of Education, were senior level DOE members who attended the meeting. And there was notable representation from the Department of Treasury as well.

After the meeting with the Corinthian 100, the DOE released a statement saying that they appreciated the opportunity to hear from the students, and that they “…will review every claim to borrower’s defence and continue to investigate Corinthian to help students as much as possible.”

The DOE has agreed to meet again in 30 days with the Corinthian 100 and have committed to offering more substantive responses to complaints and proposals, according to Larson.

For its part, Corinthian said in a statement that it believes “career colleges like Corinthian play an important role in the US education system and serve a need that would otherwise be unmet.”

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