Durbin Applauds Department Of Education’s Move To Approve Borrower Defense Claims For Former Ashford University Students

The predatory for-profit college scammed thousands of students out of a quality education and into mountains of debt

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) took to the Senate floor to applaud the U.S. Department of Education’s (Department) decision to approve more than 2,300 borrower defense claims filed by former Ashford University students, totaling $72 million in student debt relief.  Of the 2,300 claims discharged, 120 belonged to Illinois student borrowers, amounting to more than $3.6 million in relief.

“This year, some students are breathing easier.  They were the victims of a for-profit university, Ashford University.  I've come to the floor so many times to state the obvious. These for-profit universities are generally a terrific waste of taxpayers' dollars and students' time,”Durbin said.  “There comes a point when these students, burdened with debt, petition the government and say they were defrauded and deceived… Ashford is a prime example of the pervasive rot and abuse that exists in the for-profit college industry.”

Digging into the for-profit college’s nefarious background, the Department concluded that Ashford intentionally misled students about the cost of attendance, the ability to transfer credits, its accreditation and licensure status, and the length of its programs.  Some students were told they would not incur any out-of-pocket costs and were eligible for Pell Grants, but later discovered they had reached lifetime loan limits while enrolled, forcing them to withdraw with debt but no degree.

“In investigating it, the Department of Education found that Ashford just lied to students about the cost of attendance by promising students they wouldn’t have any out-of-pocket costs,” Durbin continued.  “Not only was this a lie, but many students reached their lifetime loan limits attending Ashford, and some students were forced to drop out, leaving them with debt and no degree.”

Despite the school’s predatory and deceptive practices, the University of Arizona acquired Ashford in 2020, renaming it the University of Arizona Global Campus (UAGC).  Durbin vehemently opposed the move, voicing his concerns over the acquisition in a 2020 letter to the University of Arizona.  In the letter, he noted that Ashford had a long history of troubling practices and had been subject to numerous state and federal investigations and lawsuits for fraudulent and predatory practices.

“But even with its shiny, new name, this global campus [UAGC] is still the same, predatory, low-life Ashford that focused on student recruitment and enrollment over student success and outcomes.  In fact, Ashford brought over the same key staffers who perpetrated their deceit on these students for so many years,” Durbin said.

Durbin concluded his speech by calling on the Department to hold Ashford University, now disguised as UAGC, accountable for taking advantage of Americans pursuing an education.

“I urge the Department to do its job, discharge these student loans, and recoup the funds from Ashford [now UAGC],” Durbin said.  “For-profit colleges have taken advantage of vulnerable students forfar too long.  It’s time that these fraudulent institutions, not the taxpayers, be financially on the on the hook.”

Video of Durbin’s remarks on the floor is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s remarks on the floor is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s remarks on the floor is available here for TV Stations.