Showing posts with label gainful employment. Show all posts
Showing posts with label gainful employment. Show all posts

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Letter to Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona Regarding Borrower Defense to Repayment and Gainful Employment Regulation (Michael DiGiacomo)

Dear Secretary Cardona, Department of Education Staff, and Regulating officials,

My name is Michael DiGiacomo. I am a former student and victim of two closed for-profit scam colleges and the student loan industry. I have been fighting this industry since 2003-2006, when I realized I had been played badly by these deceptive debt factories. 
These "colleges," and others like them, were easily able to trick not just me, but many thousands of poor, first-time people into attending. The false promises of dream job placement stats and leads, fueled by the student loan industry's "College Students make A Million Dollars More" pitch, along with high pressure tactics, lack of financial understanding, and easy access to government funds made us all the prime target for these scamsters. 
They also piled on fraudulent private student loans as they worked hand-in-hand with commercial lenders to help themselves fleece the 90/10 requirement to gain more federal money funds. The promise of the future our parents and grandparents had was turned into a scam to fuel the next big bubble and wallets of those schools, the industry, and their lobbyists.  
Now, after having gone through this fight for almost 20 years, through the recruitment lies, joblessness, default, garnishment, depression, hopelessness, and the unknown, I have fought to have my federal student loans canceled as part of Sweet v Cardona [DEVOS] and the defense to repayment process. I am still miles away from relief. 
The paychecks, garnished for federal loan money by Sallie Mae-owned debt collectors for years, will never be returned as they somehow escape the parameters of the Sweet v Cardona [DEVOS] settlement. 
I spent years choosing between food or gas to get to work because federal student loan garnishments don't take those necessities into account when they rip away your paycheck. I have also not been refunded for years of payments made to the US Department of Education and Nelnet now that the federal loans have been closed in the settlement. 
My GI BILL even dried up/time ran out because I was too ruined financially and burned by those schools to want to finally return to ANY college again. Unfortunately, I am not alone on this. Over and over again I have heard the same stories. I have lost friends, have seen people alienate family, or even abandon our country. 
Now with Sweet v Cardona [DEVOS] class and post class members, I have heard that even with evidence, payments are not returned even though the loans are closed. I have seen servicers that are supposed to be helping class members [and post class] become whole pinball students away from them back to the department of education or others or give flat out incorrect information. 
And why does the class not cover federal loans held by Sallie Mae or other pre-Obamacare lenders? 
Why should the same corporate banks that helped the scamster schools be allowed to keep the funding? 
Why should the crooks be allowed to keep the robbery purse? 
Why is the process of getting a federal loan legally closed so hard?
Why is there no federal program in place to help with the predatory/fraudulent private student loans?
The processes for Defense to Repayment and the Gainful Employment regulations are hard to follow for someone as knowledgeable as myself about this, never mind a first time student or parent with no experience in the process. Clearly the "Colleges" aren't being honest in the first place to their customers, never mind slow regulators and watch dogs. 
I have watched the Student Aid website under serve people applying to defense to repayment they rightfully should be able to use. I have watched it only allow one school when they were hit by multiple. I have seen the website break or take minutes just to type the final name line. This is inexcusable since this is the one chance for people to make things right.  
The government guaranteed funding needs to be heavily protected on what schools get access to, and on the other side students need to be easily able to be made whole when it turns out there is systematic fraud. The fraudsters are faster than the government patches to fix it. 
Often when someone gets hit by one for-profit college, they get easily hit by a second one thinking the first was an isolated incident. 
I have watched this fight and have been part of it for too long to watch it happen all over again. Regulation needs to be strong on the part of protecting borrowers and easy for borrowers to be made whole. The promise of a government accredited college should be just that. It should not be just an arm of a corporate entity or allowed to be made "Not-for-profit" just because they worded it differently. 
The same corporate CEO's should not be trading companies and schools around like baseball cards or like whack a mole game once the one before it crashes down. Please put borrowers first if you want to have an educated society and protect them from corporate scamsters. And if somehow the scamsters DO get the upper-hand, please make it easier and more understandable for borrowers to get made whole.
When I joined the Army, I made a promise I would protect this country from all threats, foreign and domestic. The for-profit college and student loan industry is a domestic threat to this country and the public. They have decimated generations of prospective students and you still haven't fully picked up the pieces yet. 
Sincerely, Michael DiGiacomo
Veteran US Army
Victim of the New England Institute of Art aka "The Art Institutes" Aka Education Management Corporation
Victim of Katherine Gibbs aka Gibbs aka Sanford Brown aka Career Education Corporation
Victim of SallieMae aka USAFunds Aka Pioneer Credit Aka Navient