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How to apply for borrower defense to repayment

This forgiveness program cancels your debt if your school broke the law.

If your school misled you or left out important information about your student loans, you might be eligible for full or partial forgiveness of your federal student debt. This is particularly popular with for-profit universities that receive federal funds. But you only qualify if your school violates state laws related to student aid.

What is borrower defense to repayment?

Borrower defense to repayment is a type of federal student loan discharge for students who attended a school that broke state laws related to how federal student loans were provided. Qualified students can have all or part of their federal loans forgiven, depending on the circumstances. Some might also receive a reimbursement for repayments they’ve already made.

Eligibility requirements for borrower defense to repayment

Borrower defense to repayment is only available on federal student loans — and only in cases where your school’s misconduct related to your student loans.

You can apply for forgiveness for loans issued by multiple schools, as long as they all are guilty of misconduct. And applying for borrower defense to repayment means you can still be eligible for other types of forgiveness, including closed school student loan discharge.

What counts at misconduct?

A school is guilty of misconduct if it violates sate laws related to consumer protections or eduction. It’s also guilty if it mislead you about the program you attended or your loans.

Let’s take a look at an example. Several former Kaplan College students who attended two of its Texas campuses back in 2015 are eligible for borrower defense to repayment. Why? Because they received federal loans for courses taught by unqualified instructors, according to Texas state law.

Not all legal violations count toward borrower defense to repayment. If you have another type of legal claim against the university — say you were harassed or injured on campus — this type of discharge is unavailable to you.

What schools qualify for borrower defense student loan discharge?

The majority of schools that qualify for borrower defense student loan discharge are for-profit institutions. These include:

  • American Career Institute (ACI)
  • American InterContinental University
  • Argosy University
  • Arizona Summit Law School
  • Briarcliffe College
  • Broadview University
  • Brooks Institute
  • Brown Mackie College
  • Carrington College
  • Chamberlain University — College of Nursing
  • Charlotte School of Law
  • Colorado Technical University
  • Daniel Webster College
  • DeVry College of New York
  • DeVry University
  • Duluth Business University
  • Florida Coastal School of Law
  • Globe University
  • Harrington College of Design
  • Institute of Production and Recording
  • ITT Tech
  • Kaplan Career Institute
  • Kaplan College
  • Kaplan University
  • Keller Graduate School of Management
  • Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts
  • Minnesota School of Business
  • Missouri College
  • Redstone College
  • Ross University
  • Sanford-Brown College
  • South University
  • TESST College of Technology
  • The Art Institutes
  • University of Phoenix
  • Western International University
  • Westwood College

How do I apply for borrower defense student loan discharge?

You can apply for borrower defense student loan discharge by filling out an online application or downloading and completing a PDF.

Applying online

The borrower defense to repayment online application is available on the Federal Student Aid (FSA) website. The FSA recommends you log in with your FSA ID, though it’s possible to apply without one — it just takes longer to process.

Applying with a PDF

You can download and fill out a PDF either by hand or on your computer. The borrower defense to repayment PDF application is available through the FSA website. Once you’ve finished it, you can send it by:

  • Email. Send a scanned copy of your signed application and any additional documents to BorrowerDefense@ed.gov.
  • Mail. Send a paper copy along with additional documents to:

US Dept. of Education — Borrower Defense to Repayment
PO Box 1854
Monticello, KY 42633

How to fill out the application for borrower defense to repayment?

Follow these steps to complete the application for borrower defense to repayment. Keep in mind they might vary depending on if you apply online or through a PDF.

Section I: Borrower information

Enter the following personal information, including your:

  • Full name
  • Birth date
  • Social Security number
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Address

If you’re a parent, check Yes and enter your child’s name and Social Security number. If not, check No and move on to the next section.

Section II: School information

Provide the following information about your school:

  • Name. If your school has a campus, include that as well.
  • Location. Provide the city and state your school is located in.
  • Dates of enrollment. It doesn’t have to be exact — just include the month and year you attended. If you’re still enrolled, check the first box. If you forget the exact date, check the second box.
  • Dates of noncontinuous enrollment. Took a break while you were in school? Provide the dates for the periods you were enrolled.
  • Program. Write the type of program you attended or your major.
  • Type of credential. In this optional section, you can specify whether you were seeking a certificate, associate, bachelor’s, master’s or any other type of degree.
  • Additional programs. List any other programs or majors you were enrolled in at the school.
  • Current status. Check the box that describes your current status: Graduate, Transferred Out, Withdrew or Attending.

Section III: Other loan reduction or tuition recovery requests

  • Past forgiveness requests. If you’ve already applied for another type of federal loan forgiveness, check Yes. Provide details about the request, including how much you received and any documents. Otherwise, check No.
  • Past tuition recovery requests. If you’ve attempted to recover part or all of your tuition payments, such as filing a lawsuit against the school, check Yes and provide details along with documentation. If not, check No and move on to Section IV.

Section IV: Basis for borrower defense

This section allows you to provide details about why you believe you are eligible for borrower defense. These include:

  • Employment prospects. Your school made false or misleading promises about future employment or earnings.
  • Program costs and the nature of the loan. Your school misled you or left out important information about the cost of attendance or your student loans.
  • Transferring credits. Your school gave you wrong information or failed to include important details about transferring credits to another institution.
  • Career services. Your school gave you false information or omitted important details about its job placement services and connections to employment in your field.
  • Educational services. Your school misled you or left out important information about the quality of education you’d receive.
  • Admissions and urgency to enroll. Your school provided misleading information or omitted details about the need to enroll as soon as possible or how difficult it is to be admitted.
  • Other. Any other omissions or false information you believe violates state law.

Check Yes next to any of the following ways your school might have misled you, providing details about the incident, including:

  • The method the school used to communicate with you.
  • The names and titles of individuals who misled you, if possible.
  • Details of how the school misled you.
  • Why you think you were misled.

If false or omitted information led you to decide to attend that school, check Yes under the description box. Otherwise, check No.

Section V: Forbearance/stopped collections

This section is where you can request to have your loans either go into:

  • Forbearance. The government pauses your student loan repayments while it processes your application.
  • Stopped collections. The government stops attempts to collect on defaulted student loans while it processes your application.

Read this section carefully. Since interest continues to add up while your loan payments are on hold, requesting forbearance can make your loan a lot more expensive if you don’t qualify. You might want to also read our guide to deferment and forbearance to learn more about the benefits and risks.

Check Yes if you’d like forbearance or stopped collections. Otherwise, check No. Be aware that leaving this section blank means your loans will automatically go into forbearance or stopped collections.

Section VI: Certification

Read the statement carefully and review your answers before signing and dating the application.

What documents do I need to provide?

While you aren’t required to provide any documents, doing so can strengthen your case and speed up your application. You might want to include:

  • Transcripts
  • Enrollment agreements
  • Registration documents
  • Promotional materials
  • Emails between you and school officials
  • Course catalogs
  • Course manuals

My student loan discharge was approved. Now what?

It depends on how much you get approved for. If you’re approved to have all of your loans discharged, you won’t have to make any more repayments. If your loans are partially discharged, you’ll continue paying off your student loans, but have a reduced balance.

What can I do if my student loan discharge was denied?

If your application was denied, you’ll be responsible for paying off your student loans. If you opted for forbearance, the interest that accumulated while your application was being processed gets added to your loan balance.

Defaulted student loans will also go back into collections. This means the government will start withholding your tax refunds and potentially garnishing your wages until your loans are paid off.

If you believe your application was denied by mistake, reach out to your loan servicer for more details.

Alternatives to borrower defense to repayment

Borrower defense to repayment is only one student loan discharge option out there. You also might want to consider:

  • Closed school student loan discharge. If your school closed while you were enrolled or recently after you withdrew, you could be eligible for a full discharge of your student loans.
  • Federal and state forgiveness. Both individual states and the federal government have forgiveness programs you can apply to. Most are based on your career and require a service commitment.
  • Employer-based forgiveness. Many companies have started offering student loan forgiveness as an employee benefit.

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Bottom line

You could have all or part of your loans forgiven if your school violated state laws related to student loans. Providing documents and applying online using your FSA ID is the quickest way to get approved.

Don’t qualify? Check out over 10 other ways to get your student loans forgiven.

Frequently asked questions

Is there forgiveness for University of Phoenix students?

Yes, qualified former University of Phoenix students can receive some forgiveness. However, the Department of Education only offers full forgiveness to students who earn less than 50% than their peers who earned a degree from a similar program. Otherwise, you might only be eligible for between 10% and 50% of your student debt load, depending on how much you make.

Can former DeVry students qualify for borrower defense to repayment?

Yes, DeVry is one of the top universities where students can qualify for borrower defense to repayment forgiveness. You can apply for free by following the steps listed in this article.

If a company contacts you asking for an upfront fee in exchange for DeVry student loan debt relief, report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) — it’s a scam.

Are ITT Tech students eligible for student loan forgiveness?

Yes. Since ITT Tech no longer exists, former students might be eligible for both closed school forgiveness and borrower defense to repayment forgiveness.

I went to a Corinthian College. Am I eligible for borrower defense?

You might, depending on the situation. A lawsuit against the school, Manriquez v. DeVos, is still proceeding and could affect you if you received a partial discharge of your loan after December 2017. In that case, your loans will be placed into forbearance or stopped collections status if you apply for borrower defense until there’s a final ruling.

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