Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum and 29 other attorneys general around the nation Thursday requested that the U.S. Department of Education extend the time frame to cancel student loans for students of now-closed schools.
The letter focuses on the Dream Center Education Holdings nonprofit. Dream Center in 2017 purchased Argosy University, the Art Institutes and South University from the Education Management Corporation. Those schools all have multiple locations around the U.S.
At the time of the sale, the Education Management Corporation had already “engaged in misconduct that set the schools on a path toward financial instability,” the AGs’ letter states.
Dream Center Education Holdings closed more than 20 schools last year, including the Art Institute of Portland.
The letter states that tens of thousands of students were unable to complete their studies and obtain degrees because of the mismanagement of the schools.
Students who were enrolled in the schools when they closed are eligible for student loan forgiveness. If students withdrew, they’re only eligible for that forgiveness if they left within 120 days of the closure.
The attorneys general are asking Secretary Betsy DeVos to extend that timeline for students who withdrew any time after Oct. 17, 2017 — the date when the nonprofit started managing the schools.
The attorneys general say Dream Center Education Holdings did not clearly state the dates when schools would be closing.
“DCEH only vaguely told students that they schools were closing, sometime,” the AGs’ letter states.
The attorneys general also said that some of the schools did not clearly explain student loan forgiveness time frames, such as the 120-day withdrawal eligibility.
The letter also states that for several years Argosy and the Art Institute enrolled Oregon students into its online programs without state authorization to do so.
“If DCEH received Title IV federal funding for those students, it also may have violated federal law because the schools were not legally authorized to operate in Oregon,” the letter said.
“In sum, from the date DCEH took over the schools in Oct. 2017 to the date most of the schools closed in March 2019, DCEH violated numerous federal laws and the laws of 40 states, at minimum.”
DeVos and her department have faced criticism for violating an order to stop collecting student loans from borrowers who attended Corinthian Colleges, another now-defunct education company.