Illustration for article titled How to File a Borrower Defense Claim for Student Loan Forgiveness

Photo: pogonici (Shutterstock)

With the Department of Education recently having wiped out $500 million in student debt for former students of ITT Technical Institute, the Biden Administration continues to reverse many Trump-era policies on student debt relief claims. Now that it actually appears there is a chance borrowers who have been defrauded by their schools will see relief, you might want to make a claim, too—and to do it, you’ll be using the Borrower Defense program. Here’s what you need to know.

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Your debt can be forgiven based on false advertising

Using the federal Borrower Defense to Repayment program, you can apply for federal student loan forgiveness if your school has either been fraudulent with your tuition or misled you about your education (which is more commonly a problem with for-profit schools like ITT).

To receive a partial or full discharge of your student loans, you must be able to prove that the school misled you or otherwise broke your state’s consumer protection laws—and within three years of your leaving the school. Claims are more likely to be successful if you can document that your school:

  • Guaranteed 100% job placement that was never fulfilled
  • Misrepresented the total costs of the program
  • Made false claims about a program’s certifications
  • Made false claims about the expertise about their staff

You will not qualify for cancellation based on the poor quality of the course material or teaching staff, disputes over your grades, or substandard school facilities.

To make a new claim using the Borrower Defense Program, click here. If you’re unsure if you qualify, take a look at the instructions in the application form, as it provides helpful guidance for determining whether you’re eligible for loan forgiveness.

Expect favorable changes to existing student debt relief programs

While President Biden has taken steps to address a growing backlog of Borrower Defense claims left over from the Trump presidency, over 130,000 cases remain (including outstanding claims against ITT). However, the Department of Education plans to review and possibly change the rules for the Borrower Defense program, along with other discharges, with public hearings starting in June.

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While it’s not yet clear what reforms will actually be implemented, you can expect loosened restrictions on student loan relief requirements—perhaps within a year. For that reason, it can’t hurt to make a claim now. And if you had a claim rejected in the past, keep an eye out for updates to the Borrower Defense program in the meantime, as it’s possible that the timeframe in which you can make a claim will be expanded (after all, prior to changes made by the Trump administration, the window was six years, versus the current three), or that previously rejected claims will become eligible for reconsideration, allowing you qualify you for loan forgiveness after all.

  

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