Durbin Statement On Department Of Education Approving $415 Million In New Borrower Defense Relief For Students Defrauded By For-Profit Colleges

Today’s announcement includes $53.1 million in relief for approximately 1,600 Westwood College borrowers

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) released the following statement after the U.S. Department of Education approved more than 15,000 borrower defense claims for students defrauded by for-profit colleges totaling $415 million. This includes students who attended DeVry University, Westwood College, ITT Technical Institute’s nursing program, and Minnesota School of Business/Globe University following approval of four new findings and the continued review of borrower defense claims. 


“For years, students who were defrauded by for-profit colleges have been waiting for borrower defense relief.  Today’s announcement shows the Biden Administration’s progress toward providing the relief to which these borrowers are entitled under the law—including Illinois Westwood students.  Unfortunately, the Department has yet to process the group claims submitted by State attorneys general—including Illinois’ Lisa Madigan and Kwame Raoul—that could provide relief to defrauded Westwood and other borrowers without requiring individual applications.  We will continue to push the Department of Education to do so.  Until then, I encourage anyone who attended Westwood College to apply for relief through the Department of Education.”


Westwood and other borrowers who believe they were defrauded by their school can apply for borrower defense discharge HERE.


In 2012, then-Illinois Attorney General (AG) Lisa Madigan filed a suit against Westwood College for using deceptive marketing in violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act.  Westwood College deceived Illinois students about the costs and accreditation of its criminal justice program, misleading students into believing that the program was highly respected by employers and would ensure them a job in law enforcement. Upon graduation, students found that Illinois law enforcement agencies did not recognize their Westwood education, leaving them drowning in student debt with no job prospects.  At the time, Westwood was run by George Burnett—the newly selected president of for-profit University of Phoenix.  Durbin recently said the hire “shows the systemic rot across the for-profit college industry.”


Durbin, alongside then-AG Madigan and current AG Kwame Raoul, has been continuously advocating for discharging the federal student loans of Illinois Westwood borrowers since the Obama Administration. In 2016, Durbin urged then-Secretary of Education John King to discharge the debt of defrauded Illinois Westwood students based on the evidence found in Illinois AG Madigan’s suit. He repeatedly pressed former Secretary Betsy DeVos on the matter during the Trump Administration.


In his first letter to Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, Durbin called on him to promptly provide federal student loan debt relief to students defrauded by Westwood College citing Illinois’ lawsuit and its conclusive evidence that the for-profit institution misled students.  With today’s announcement, Secretary Cardona and the Biden Administration will have discharged $130 million in loans for former Westwood students.