The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau secured an agreement in September to obtain $330 million in debt relief for 35,000 former ITT Tech students, including $6,198,820.30 for Nevadans, as part of a settlement with 48 attorneys general.
The attorneys general have settled with PEAKS Trust, a private loan program run by the for-profit college and affiliated with Deutsche Bank entities. ITT filed bankruptcy in 2016 amid investigations by state attorneys general and following action by the U.S. Department of Education to restrict ITT’s access to federal student aid.
“Thousands of Nevada students have been duped by PEAKS Trust’s mounting interest rates and predatory practices,” Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford said. “In addition to academic rigor, these students had the added pressure of facing expulsion if they didn’t make tuition. My Bureau of Consumer Protection has been working hard to hold PEAKS Trust accountable, and I’m proud that $6,198,820.30 will be rightfully delivered into the hands of Nevada students.”
PEAKS was formed after the 2008 financial crisis when private sources of lending available to for-profit colleges dried up. ITT developed a plan with PEAKS to offer students temporary credit to cover the gap in tuition between federal student aid and the full cost of the education.
According to the Assurance of Voluntary Compliance filed today, ITT and PEAKS knew or should have known that the students would not be able to repay the temporary credit when it became due nine months later. Many students complained that they thought the temporary credit was like a federal loan and would not be due until six months after they graduated.
When the temporary credit became due, ITT pressured and coerced students into accepting loans from PEAKS, which for many students carried high interest rates, far above rates for federal loans. Pressure tactics used by ITT included pulling students out of class and threatening to expel them if they did not accept the loan terms.
Many of the ITT students were from low-income backgrounds and were left with the choice of enrolling in the PEAKS loans or dropping out and losing any benefit of the credits they had earned, because ITT’s credits would not transfer to most schools.
The default rate on the PEAKS loans is projected to exceed 80%, because of both the high cost of the loans and the lack of success ITT graduates had getting jobs that earned enough to make repayment feasible. The defaulted loans continue to affect students’ credit ratings and are usually not dischargeable in bankruptcy.
Under the settlement, PEAKS has agreed that it will forgo collection of the outstanding loans and cease doing business. PEAKS will send notices to borrowers about the canceled debt and ensure that automatic payments are canceled. The settlement also requires PEAKS to supply credit reporting agencies with information to update credit information for affected borrowers.
Students eligible for this settlement will receive notices for debt relief. The notices will explain their rights under the settlement. Students may direct questions to PEAKS at email@example.com or 866-747-0273, or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau at 855-411-2372.
ITT had operated two Nevada campuses: ITT Technical Institute-Henderson and ITT Technical Institute Las Vegas-North Las Vegas.
In addition to Nevada, the settlement was signed by the attorneys general of Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.