MIC: These Students Are Taking a Bold Stand and Refusing to Pay Their College Loans

Career College Central Summary:

  • Latonya Suggs wanted a better life.
  • In 2012, she was 25 years old and working temp job after temp job in Cincinnati. Suggs desired a career, so she got in touch with recruiters from Everest College and discussed her options. The recruiters told her about a two-year associate's degree in criminal justice, one that they assured her would land her a job as a probations officer. Suggs enrolled in an online program and completed her coursework easily, she told Mic. She was the first member of her immediate family to earn a degree.
  • Things took a turn in 2014. She had trouble getting help from Everest's career services, and after graduating in the fall, she wasn't able to find a job as a probations officer, or any other position in her field. Instead, she worked as a housekeeper to pay her bills, which had grown significantly since she graduated — she accumulated more than $30,000 in debt over two years while pursuing her degree. Today, she's unemployed.
  • Being unemployed with steep debt isn't unique for young graduates in the United States, but Suggs' case is different. Just before graduating, she learned that Everest was part of a large network of fraudulent for-profit colleges that was being dismantled by the federal government. So she decided to make a bold move: She wasn't going to pay back her student loans.
  • Worse off than before: A few months before finishing her program, Suggs learned that Corinthian Colleges Inc., the for-profit operator of Everest College and a number of other colleges across the country, was being forced by the Department of Education to either sell off or shut down all of its campuses across the country. The company was being sued by the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for running schools that were advertising "bogus job prospects and career services," overseeing a "predatory lending scheme" and "strong-arm[ing]" students with illegal debt collection tactics," according to the CFPB. The bureau's investigation found that the company's tactics included "creating fictitious employers" to generate its statistics and relying on Craigslist for directing students to jobs. (Corinthian Colleges did not respond to Mic's request for comment.)
  • As Corinthian has been systematically dismantled, it's been forced to forgive some private student loans it lured students into taking. But so far the federal government has taken no measures to address the federal student loans taken out by Corinthian students, which Inside Higher Ed estimates to be more than half a billion dollars.
  • This leaves former students like Suggs — who says she has $32,000 in federal loans, but is unclear about how much, if any, private student loan debt she has — out in the cold. She has a degree that's not considered credible by employers, nor easily transferred to other higher education institutions, yet she can't discharge her debt.
  • "I am worse off than when I joined," Suggs said in an interview. "I didn't have debt before, and now I have to struggle to pay these loans back. I was scammed. Two years of my life are gone. I can't get that back."
  • She knew she wasn't going to get the time back, but determined it was worth fighting for the money.

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