Jason S. Miyares
Attorney General of Virginia

Image of the Virginia AG Seal

Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General

Mark Herring
Attorney General

202 North Ninth Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219


For media inquiries only, contact:  
Charlotte Gomer, Press Secretary
Phone: (804)786-1022 
Mobile: (804) 512-2552
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


~ Protecting student borrowers has been a priority for Attorney General Herring's  Consumer Protection Section, which has secured more than $19.5 million for more than 6,000 student borrowers ~

RICHMOND(March 3, 2020) – As part of National Consumer Protection Week, Attorney General Mark R. Herring is highlighting the work he and his team have done to protect Virginia student loan borrowers. Attorney General Herring and his team have continuously challenged Secretary Betsy DeVos and the U.S. Department of Education in court to uphold the federal protections in place to protect student borrowers from predatory, for-profit schools, as well as reached multiple settlements with for-profit colleges for using deceitful tactics against student borrowers. The Consumer Protection Section has recovered more than $19.5 million for more than 6,000 student borrowers in Virginia. Over one million Virginia student borrowers have over $41 billion in student loans.


This year, legislation passed that Attorney General Herring supported that created more protections for student borrowers as well as Virginians who enroll in for-profit colleges. Attorney General Herring supported legislation (HB10 Simon; SB 77 Howell) that tightens regulations on student loan servicers, providing Virginia student borrowers with more protections when taking out student loans. Additionally, Attorney General Herring supported HB375 Willet that prohibits for-profit colleges from forcing students into entering arbitration agreements upon admittance to the school.


"Unfortunately, over the past few years we have seen the Trump Administration change or roll back federal protections for student borrowers in favor of the for-profit colleges who take advantage of them,” said Attorney General Herring. "As attorney general, I am committed to protecting Virginia's student borrowers and their families from exploitation and abuse. I will continue to take action against any fraudulent for-profit schools or damaging federal policies.”


Attorney General Herring has stood up against the Trump Administration's numerous attempts to rollback student borrower protections. In January, he urged Congress to reject the U.S. Department of Education's 2019 Borrower Defense Rule that fails to protect students and taxpayers from the misconduct of unscrupulous schools. Previously, Attorney General Herring won a victory in federal court when a judge rejected the Trump Administration's challenge to the Obama-era Borrower Defense Rule, ordering its immediate implementation for students nationwide. This ruling followed a victory Attorney General Herring won in federal court after he and a coalition of state attorneys general challenged the U.S. Department of Education's plan to abruptly rescind its Borrower Defense Rule which was designed to hold abusive higher education institutions accountable for cheating students and taxpayers out of billions of dollars in federal loans. The immediate implementation of the 2016 Borrower Defense rule meant that the U.S. Department of Education had to automatically discharge $381 million in loans for students whose schools closed.


Attorney General Herring has also called on Secretary DeVos to extend the timeframe for student loan debt forgiveness for students enrolled in schools that were operated by Dream Center Education Holdings (DCEH) that are now closed. DCEH took over Virginia's schools that were previously operated by Education Management Corporation (EDMC) following a settlement Attorney General Herring reached with EDMC that included $2.29 million in loan forgiveness for approximately 2,000 former students in Virginia.


Attorney General Herring has also taken other major actions against for-profit colleges for misleading students. In June of last year, he secured $9.29 million in debt relief for nearly 1,000 former ITT Tech students in Virginia as part of a 43 state settlement. The settlement was with Student CU Connect CUSO, LLC (CUSO), which offered loans to finance students' tuition at ITT Tech, the failed for-profit college. ITT filed bankruptcy in 2016 amid investigations by state attorneys general and following action by the U.S. Department of Education to restrict ITT's access to federal student aid.


Additionally last year, Attorney General Herring and 48 other attorneys general reached a settlement with for-profit education company Career Education Corporation (CEC). The terms of the settlement required CEC to reform its recruiting and enrollment practices and forgo collecting about $493.7 million in debts owed by 179,529 students nationally. In Virginia, 3,094 students will receive relief totaling $8,022,178.


In December 2016, the Attorney General announced that more than 5,000 Virginia students formerly enrolled in schools operated by Corinthian Colleges, Inc. may be eligible for loan forgiveness. This came after the U.S Department of Education found that Corinthian College and its subsidiaries published misleading job placement rates for many programs between 2010 and 2014. Following this announcement, Attorney General Herring urged Secretary DeVos and the Department of Education to follow through on their commitment to cancel student debt for students in Virginia and around the country who were victimized by Corinthian Colleges' practices.


Below are some tips for student loan borrowers to keep in mind:


(1) Financing Options

  • Check First for Grants and Scholarships – Resources include:
  • the financial aid office at a college or career school
  • a high school or TRIO counselor
  • the U.S. Department of Labor's free scholarship search tool
  • federal agencies
  • your state
  • your library
  • foundations, religious or community organizations, local businesses, or civic groups
  • organizations related to your field of interest, like professional associations
  • ethnicity-based organizations
  • your employer or your parents' employers
  • Evaluate Whether Private or Federal Loans Are Right for You:
  • Federal Loans Include:
  • Direct Loans, where the U.S. Department of Education is the lender;
  • Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL), where private lenders make loans backed by the federal government
  • Federal Perkins Loans, low-interest federal student loans for undergraduate and graduate students with exceptional financial need
  • PLUS loans, federal loans that graduate or professional students and parents of dependent undergraduate students can use to help pay for college or career school
  • Private loans, sometimes called "alternative loans,” are offered by private lenders, like banks and credit unions, and do not include the benefits and protections that come with federal loans
  • Review the Federal Trade Commission's Comparison of Federal and Private Loans at https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/1028-student-loans


(2) Paying Back Your Student Loans

  • Federal Loans
  • The U.S. Department of Education has repayment programs that can ease the burden of paying for your education, including:
  • Income-driven repayment plans — your monthly payment is based on how much money you make
  • Deferment and forbearance — you can postpone making payments, if there's a good reason you can't repay right away, though interest might cause what you owe to increase
  • Loan forgiveness or loan discharge — in some circumstances, you don't have to repay some or all of your loans. You might qualify if, for instance, you work for a government or not-for-profit organization, if you become disabled, or if your school closed or committed fraud. Also, under certain income-driven repayment plans, any balance that remains after 20 or 25 years of payments is forgiven. In some cases, you may owe income taxes on the forgiven or discharged amount
  • Learn more at https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans
  • Private Loans
  • With private student loans, you typically have fewer repayment options, especially when it comes to loan forgiveness or cancellation. To explore your options, contact your loan servicer directly. If you don't know who your private student loan servicer is, look at a recent billing statement
  • Free Federal Loan Consolidation
  • Consolidating federal loans with the federal government is FREE. There are companies that may offer to help you consolidate your federal loans with the federal government, for a fee, but you DON'T have to pay for this service. Consolidating with the federal government is a process you can do on your own, at no cost
  • Review the Federal Trade Commission's recommendations on whether loan consolidation is right for you at https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/1028-student-loans
  • Avoid Student Loan Debt Relief Scams
  • Only scammers promise fast loan forgiveness
  • NEVER pay an up-front fee for help
  • Scammers will often fake a government seal, so be vigilant of scammers trying to appear like a government agency. If you have federal student loans, work with the Department of Education directly at https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans
  • If you have federal student loans, do NOT share your Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID with any company offering debt relief assistance


Virginians who have a question, concern, or complaint about a consumer matter should contact Attorney General Herring's Consumer Protection Section:


Since 2014, Attorney General Herring's Consumer Protection Section has recovered more than $323 million in relief for consumers and payments from violators. The Section has also transferred more than $55 million to the Commonwealth's General Fund. Following a major reorganization and enhancement in 2016, the OAG's Consumer Protection Section has been even more effective in fighting for the rights of Virginians.


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