Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General
Jason S. Miyares
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Richmond, Virginia 23219
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Attorney General Miyares Joins Coalition Seeking Relief For Student Loan Borrowers
RICHMOND, VA - Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares and five other attorneys general called on the U.S. Department of Education to cancel the federal student loan debt of thousands of students who attended schools operated by the for-profit company Education Corporation of America (ECA).
"The fraudulent Education Corporation of America intentionally deceived 1,650 Virginia students, requiring them to pay large sums of money for an unaccredited education and lifetime counseling services that the school failed to provide. Virginia students were taken advantage of, and these bad actors must be held accountable. Though we cannot make up for lost time, we can alleviate the financial burden imposed by the deception,” said Attorney General Miyares.
The Borrower Defense Application submitted today seeks relief for ECA student loan borrowers due to alleged misrepresentations to students regarding its accreditation status, its efforts to obtain a new accreditation, and its broken promises to students, including its guarantee of lifetime career counseling. ECA also operated as Brightwood Career Institute, Virginia College, Ecotech, and the Golf Academy of America.
In Virginia, approximately 1,650 borrowers attended Virginia College's location in Richmond from June of 2016 through December of 2018. These misled students owe approximately $18 million in federal student loans.
Accredited schools must meet defined standards of quality from an outside accreditor. Without accreditation, schools do not qualify for Title IV federal student aid programs, a key source of revenue. In 2016, ECA was decertified, and it failed to obtain a new accreditor. Until all the schools closed in 2018, the company consistently downplayed its suspect accreditation status and overestimated its likelihood of obtaining a new accreditation.
ECA continued to recruit students by promising them education and career counseling services, and then failed to provide those services, abruptly closing its campuses in December 2018.
Federal law permits the Department of Education to forgive federal student loans when borrowers were deceived while obtaining the loans. The attorneys general urged the Department of Education to provide "full relief to ECA students, including refunds of the money students already paid on those loans.”
Attorney General Miyares's Consumer Protection Section investigated ECA's operations in Virginia and is submitting the letter application to the Department of Education along with the attorneys general of Pennsylvania, Maryland, California, Colorado, and Alabama.
To read the letter, click here.