By: Annie Nova
When Morgan Marler’s 5-year-old daughter, Lilian, asks her why she doesn’t work anymore, Marler doesn’t know what to say.
“I can’t explain debt to her,” Marler, 29, said. “And how I went to school and it was all for nothing.”
Marler attended ITT Technical Institute, a now-shuttered for-profit school, between 2013 and 2016. The school has since been found to have misled students with false advertisements. Marler, for her part, was told students typically went on to make $70,000 a year. After she graduated, the best jobs she could find were at call centers that paid $10 an hour — less than she’d been making before she enrolled at the school.
Her associates degree at ITT left her with $30,000 in student loans, and she’s asked the Department of Education to cancel her debt, but has yet to hear back. That was nearly three years ago.
A federal judge ruled last year that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ delays of an Obama-era regulation aimed at forgiving the student debt of defrauded students were illegal. Still, advocates say, the department continues to neglect the applications of those like Marler.
More than 180,000 claims for student debt forgiveness remain “pending” and no borrower has had their request approved or denied in more than a year.
“The Department of Education under Betsy DeVos is just ignoring the claims,” said Eileen Connor, the director of litigation at Harvard Law School’s Project on Predatory Student Lending, which is currently suing DeVos. “These people can’t plan for the future.
“They’re losing faith in the government.”
Nearly 900 former for-profit school students recently described the consequences of their education to the Project in written testimonies. Their stories make clear that a few years at a bad school can cast a shadow over the rest of someone’s life.
More than two-thirds of the defrauded student debtors said they struggled to get a mortgage or auto loan, half of them said the uncertainty around whether or not their debt will be cancelled has caused them to delay marriage or children, and nearly all of them said their lives are worse off today than before they went to school.