LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – A 7-million dollar settlement reached this week has one former ITT Technical Institute student in Lexington hopeful.
Attorney General Daniel Cameron says more than 1,000 students there were victims of predatory loans.
“My boys are the biggest push I have,” says Victoria Blevins, former ITT Tech student.
Blevins says she remembers the day the school abruptly closed its doors about four years ago.
“I had took a break for a while because my dad ended up with cancer,” says Blevins. “When I went back in maybe like a week, two weeks, and we showed up there and there was a note on the door that said we would receive an email with further instructions.”
ITT Tech closed all of its campuses nationwide in 2016 after filing for bankruptcy. It was amid investigations by multiple state attorneys general, and after the U.S. Department of Education restricted ITT’s access to federal student aid.
“I had 6 months left and I graduated with my CMA.”
Blevins would have been a certified medical assistant.
She says she found nearly no schools would accept her credits from ITT, and she couldn’t start over because she had to take care of her two young boys.
“My one year old has actually spent 216 days in the children’s hospital in Cincinnati,” says Blevins.
She says that’s why she wants to dedicate her career to pediatric care. However, she says not only are credits a problem, so are private loans she took while at ITT.
“Until my loans are paid, or brought out of deferment, I can’t go back to school,” says Blevins.
The settlement will give 7 million dollars in loan relief to students. Cameron found ITT took advantage of low income students by working with private loan company, PEAKS.
He says it gave students zero-interest credits, and when students couldn’t repay in nine months, the school threatened to expel them if they didn’t take the loan with PEAKS.
Blevins took a private loan she believes was predatory. She says if she qualifies for the relief, she can provide a better life for her family.
“That would mean I would get to go back to school,” says Blevins. “I would get to get my RN and have a life that’s set in stone for my kids.”
PEAKS loan default rates are projected to exceed 80 percent, due to both the high cost of the loans as well as the lack of success ITT graduates had getting jobs that earned enough to make repayment feasible.
Under the terms of the settlement, PEAKS is required to terminate all loan collection activities, to halt accepting loan payments, and to refrain from selling or transferring loans.
Within 30 days of the settlement, PEAKS, DBNTC, and DBTCA must cancel all outstanding balances of affected student loan accounts, including fees, charges, and interest.
PEAKS is also required to notify loan holders by mail of their cancelled debt and ensure automatic payments are cancelled. The settlement also compels PEAKS to supply credit reporting agencies with information to update the credit scores of affected borrowers.
Students with loans from PEAKS are not required to take action to receive debt relief and should receive notices explaining their rights under the settlement. Students may direct questions regarding the settlement to PEAKS by emailing [email protected], calling 866-747-0273, or contacting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureauby calling (855) 411-2372.
Attorney General Cameron was joined by attorneys general of Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming in the settlement.