Higher education is a great tool for helping people move up the economic ladder. Unfortunately in Mississippi, for-profit colleges prey upon the dreams of those who want to make positive change in their lives. These institutions make promises about degree programs from nursing and medical assistants to graphic design, attracting a wide variety of students looking to earn more money for themselves and their families. In the end, they deliver only debt and disappointment to far too many students.
Degrees offered by for-profit colleges come at a high cost that is not reflected the quality of the program and therefore lead to underemployment, contributing further to unmanageable student loan debt. In Mississippi, these predatory educational products disproportionately target low-income families, communities of color and, in particular, African-American Women, all for whom resources are already so scarce.
For-profit school students make up 12 percent of the degree-seeking population in the United States. However, they represent about 46 percent of federal student loan defaults. Defaulting on a student loan can ruin a borrower’s credit, as student loan debt is nearly impossible to discharge within bankruptcy proceedings. Ironically, this prevents borrowers who attended these schools from providing their families with the economic safety and security they worked so hard to give to their loved ones.
Mississippi Center for Justice is combating for-profit colleges and the impact they have on hardworking communities attempting to provide for their families. The Center, in collaboration with Warren L. Martin, Jr., P.A. and Kenya R. Martin, LLC, filed a formal complaint against Virginia College, LLC in a case involving higher education practices of fraud, breach of contract and negligence; citing violations of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1691 et seq.; and violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq. Click here to read a press release with more information about this suit, which has since been settled.
The Center is also working with high school students to help them avoid the pitfalls of student loan debt. The G2K:12 College $ense student loan summit, a forum to speak to parents and students, shares information about the dos and don’ts of borrowing to pay for school.
Check out some of the resources we provide to students looking to minimize their student loan debt: