Nearly a decade after the Court Reporting Institute, Inc. (CRI) in Seattle and Tacoma shut down after defrauding students and violating state laws, hundreds of cheated students are still saddled with federal student loan debt
As detailed in a letter by Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson to the U.S. Department of Education, CRI induced students to enroll by systematically misrepresenting its educational practices, instructor qualifications, graduation rates, and employment prospects: LINK
Today, in a letter echoing Attorney General Ferguson’s submission, Sen. Murray is urging the U.S. Department of Education to exercise its legal authority to grant full and immediate group debt relief to former CRI students in Washington State: LINK
Sen. Murray and Attorney General Ferguson: We can never fully remedy the harm done to these students through shattered dreams and lost time, but we can support them by ensuring they get the relief they deserve.
(Washington, D.C) – Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the top Democrat on the Senate education committee, sent a letter urging the U.S. Department of Education (“the Department”) to provide full and immediate student loan debt relief to Washington State students formerly enrolled at the Court Reporting Institute, Inc. (“CRI”).
CRI was opened in 1988 under the pretense of providing stenographic training to students in Seattle and Tacoma looking to launch a career in transcription. Instead, as detailed in a November 21, 2016 letter from Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson to the Department, this vocational school induced students to enroll and finance their educations with extraordinary levels of debt by systematically misrepresenting its educational practices, instructor qualifications, graduation rates, and employment prospects. While CRI often claimed a job placement rate of 100 percent, only 6 percent of CRI students ever graduated. Only 30 percent of graduates (1.7 percent of students) got a job in court reporting within nine months of graduating.
CRI closed its doors in late August 2006 in the face of overwhelming student complaints, adverse regulatory findings, and negative press. The students who attended CRI’s court reporting program, however, never received relief on their fraudulently-issued federal student loan debt. Today, nearly a decade after the school closed, 335 former CRI students from the Seattle campus alone are still working to pay back outstanding federal student loan debt.
In her letter to the Department concurring with Attorney General Ferguson’s request, Senator Murray says these former students are entitled to full and immediate student loan debt relief under the current “borrower defense to repayment” regulations which allow the Department to discharge loans based on violations of state law.
“Far too many students throughout our country who were simply trying to secure a higher education and a good job have been cheated and lied to by predatory schools that promised to help them,” wrote Senator Murray. “Due to the widespread and well-documented nature of the company’s misrepresentations…I ask that the Department exercise its authority to grant group relief to all CRI students who attended its Seattle and Tacoma locations.”
As established in Attorney General Ferguson’s letter, CRI’s misrepresentations and practices give rise to state law causes of action under Washington’s Consumer Protection Act and common law fraud.
“Student loan debt is a major burden for thousands of Washingtonians,” Attorney General Ferguson said. “The Education Department has the ability to grant relief to the hundreds of students still suffering from the unscrupulous tactics of this predatory, for-profit school. I ask them to join me and Sen. Murray in fighting to protect students from schools that don’t play by the rules.”
Full text of Senator Murray’s letter can be found HERE.