Activists clear millions in private student loan debt for students who attended a now-bankrupt, for-profit Texas college

Activists clear millions in private student loan debt for students who attended a now-bankrupt, for-profit Texas college
Four people watching white MacBook on top of glass-top table. (Photo by Mimi Thian / Unsplash)
four people watching on white MacBook on top of glass-top table
Economy

A group of activists have gifted former students of a now-defunct for-profit collegiate institution with the gift of a lifetime: full payment of their student loan debt.

On Friday, June 24, the Debt Collective —a debtor's union advocating for all forms of debt to be abolished— announced that its subsidiary organization had wiped approximately $16 million in student loan debt. According to Business Insider, Rolling Jubilee Fund has purchased and canceled that debt for more than 7,000 former college students that matriculated at Vista College, a for-profit school that declared bankruptcy before shutting down last year.

In its letter to the students, the group announced that it bought and canceled the private student loan debt.

"We bought the private student loan listed above and canceled it," the group wrote in its letter to the students whom they canceled the debt for. "You no longer owe the balance of this debt. You do not need to pay us, nor should you pay anyone else for this debt—it is gone!"

Speaking to Insider, Thomas Gokey, who serves as the Debt Collective's legal and policy director, explained the organization's efforts as he noted that the initiative is "about more than just the private student loans we purchased and abolished."

He also expressed concern about the issues with Vista College as he explained why he believes "widespread fraud occurred."

"We believe that Vista College may have committed widespread fraud," the group added in the letter.

"We believe that they may have targeted specific types of people—low-income people and also people of color—so they could put them into lifetimes of crushing debt for their own profit. We believe that they also may have lied to students about the quality of the education, and about the likelihood that those students could get well-paid jobs in their fields with a Vista degree."

The Debt Collective's last announcement about Vista College comes nearly one month after the organization took participated in a collaborative effort to wipe approximately $1.7 million in student loan debt for students who attended Bennet College, an all-female Historically Black College or University.

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