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The U.S. Education Department said Wednesday it's erasing student debt for thousands of borrowers who attended a for-profit college chain that made exaggerated claims about its graduates’ success in finding jobs.
The Biden administration said it is approving 18,000 loan forgiveness claims from former students of ITT Technical Institute, a chain that closed in 2016 after being dealt a series of sanctions by the Obama administration. The new loan discharges will clear more than $500 million in debt.
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The move marks a step forward in the Biden administration’s effort to clear a backlog of claims in the borrower defense program, which provides loan forgiveness to students who were defrauded by their colleges. Claims piled up during the Trump administration, which stalled the program and only started processing claims after a federal court demanded it. There are now more than 100,000 pending claims.
In announcing the new action, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona vowed to continue standing up for students who are deceived by their schools.
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"Our action today will give thousands of borrowers a fresh start and the relief they deserve," Cardona said in a statement. "Many of these borrowers have waited a long time for relief, and we need to work swiftly to render decisions for those whose claims are still pending."
It follows another round of loan discharges in March, when the Education Department cleared $1 billion in federal student debt for 72,000 borrowers. Those claims all came from former students of for-profit colleges.