Attorney General Phil Weiser secures loan forgiveness for over 5,400 Colorado student borrowers defrauded by Westwood College
Aug. 30, 2022 (DENVER)—Attorney General Phil Weiser applauded the announcement today that the U.S. Department of Education is forgiving the federal student loans of more than 79,000 Westwood College students nationwide—including 5,440 Colorado borrowers—after the school misled students about employment and salary prospects, transferability of credits, and its private institutional loan.
The department will forgive about $1.5 billion in student loans, which includes over $107 million for Colorado borrowers.
In August 2020, Weiser asked the department for relief for students nationwide who attended Colorado-based Westwood College between 2002 and 2015. In July 2021, the department announced that it approved the cancellation of nearly $4 million in loans for more than 151 Colorado borrowers who filed individual applications for relief. Today’s announcement secures relief for the remaining students who were impacted.
“I applaud the Department of Education’s continued attention to this issue and to the many hardworking Coloradans who were mistreated by Westwood,” Weiser said. “We will continue to investigate and hold accountable institutions that deceive student borrowers, which can have lasting consequences for their financial, physical, and emotional wellbeing.”
Relying in part on Colorado’s detailed submission of evidence in 2020, the department found that from 2002 through its 2015 closure, all of Westwood’s campuses across the country significantly misrepresented graduates’ employment and salary prospects and the transferability of the school’s credits. Graduates of Westwood’s schools generally did not obtain the job titles or salaries that Westwood advertised on its website. Furthermore, the inability of Westwood students to transfer their credits meant that they had to—or would have to—restart their education at a different school.
“Strong partnerships between the Department and state attorneys general enable us to uncover the actions of dishonest institutions, like Westwood College,” said Federal Student Aid Chief Richard Cordray. “Thanks to the valuable assistance of Attorneys General Phil Weiser of Colorado and Kwame Raoul of Illinois, we are delivering loan relief to all Westwood students who put their trust in an institution that decided to take advantage of them.”
Colorado-based Alta College, Inc. operated 15 Westwood College campuses, including an online school, across the country. The Colorado Attorney General’s Office investigated Westwood in 2012 and settled a lawsuit with the school over violations of the Colorado Consumer Protection Act and state lending laws.
Weiser leads the Colorado Department of Law in a commitment to defending Colorado student loan borrowers and holding student loan servicers accountable for deceiving and misleading students. Since 2019, the department of law secured over $190 million in refunds or debt relief for over 16,000 Coloradans.
The Colorado Student Loan Servicers Act created a student loan ombudsperson in the attorney general’s office as a resource for student loan borrowers throughout the state. The ombudsperson is responsible for receiving, reviewing, and attempting to resolve complaints from student loan borrowers. Borrowers struggling with their student loans can click here to file a complaint with the student loan ombudsperson.
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