College Complaints Unmasked

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By: Yan Cao and Tariq Habash | November 8, 2017

The Century Foundation (TCF) has obtained new data from the U.S. Department of Education about nearly 100,000 “borrower defense claims”—applications for loan relief from students who maintain that they have been defrauded or misled by federally approved colleges and universities.

While the department previously has revealed small amounts of information on borrower defense complaints, including the number of claims that are pending and that have been approved, the government has never before released a comprehensive list of schools accused of predatory behavior.

Now, in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request from TCF, the Department of Education has provided information that sorts all 98,868 borrower defense claims received as of August 15, 2017, by school. The data represents the first-ever public record of the number of claims students have filed against each and every higher education institution in the country.

When TCF analyzed the new data, it found a disproportionate concentration of predatory behavior among for-profit colleges. This report summarizes these findings, shedding new light on patterns of predatory behavior, and raising serious concerns about the federal government’s current approach to providing relief to students who have been defrauded and misled.

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