Durbin Statement on Department of Education’s Move to Approve Borrower Defense Claims for Former Ashford University Students

The approved claims amount to $3.6 million in relief for 120 Illinois student borrowers

CHICAGO – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) today released the following statement applauding the U.S. Department of Education’s announcement that the Department has approved more than 2,300 borrower defense claims filed by former Ashford University students, totaling $72 million in relief. Of the 2,300 claims discharged, 120 belonged to Illinois student borrowers, amounting to more than $3.6 million in relief.

“After years of calling on the Department of Education to swiftly discharge these borrower defense claims, I am relieved to know that the wronged students of Ashford University will see the relief they deserve after being scammed out of thousands of dollars for fraudulent degree programs. 

“This borrower defense discharge is a victory for students, but we cannot allow for-profit colleges to continue lying and misleading Illinoisans and students around the nation into taking on mountains of student debt without a viable degree or career path.”

The Department of Education found that Ashford University’s misconduct includes widespread misrepresentations about the cost of attendance, ability to transfer credits, its accreditation and licensure status, and the length of is 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.  Ashford University recruiters also told students they could transfer credits easily. These students, however, often were unable to transfer credits both into Ashford University and to other institutions.

In 2020, Durbin wrote a letter to the University of Arizona voicing his opposition to the university purchasing Ashford University as the acquisition would allow Ashford University to pose as a credible, trusted academic institution.  Durbin noted that Ashford University had a long history of troubling practices and had been subject to numerous state and federal investigations and law suits for fraudulent and predatory practices.  While the sale did go through, Ashford University’s administration still runs the operations, including marketing and recruitment, for the for-profit college, now known as University of Arizona Global Campus, and continues to prey upon students.

In August 2021, Durbin, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, held a hearing entitled “Student Loan Bankruptcy Reform,” which featured the testimony of Diane Barta, a former Ashford University student.