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How Can I Make My Art Institute Online Student Loans Disappear? – Justin

Written by Steve Rhode


Dear Steve,

I enrolled at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh Online back in 2004 for my diploma in web design. I had taken a few classes and realized that what I was being taught was nothing more than I could learn for free through tutorials online so I called them and let them know I’m not getting the education that I was lead to believe I’d be getting. They convinced me that the classes I was taking were lower level classes and that I should stick with it.

So, I stuck with it and the classes didn’t really get any more challenging and I was convinced that maybe I was just naturally gifted and already knew the stuff innately. I figured, okay…I know this stuff well enough, so I guess just having the Art Institute on my resumé would be a good thing to have since they are a well recognized school.

A year or so later it dawned on me that I was probably scammed by this online version of the Art Institute and I tried to write to the school and contact someone that could resolve my concerns and no one would contact me back.

Years later, on a program that was supposed to be $15K…I’m still making payments with about $10K left to go! I cringe every time I make a payment to this stupid school and I don’t know what to do.

I’ve been hearing about debt forgiveness on student loans and my loan is through Navient now…how does this work and would I be able to stop paying for this ridiculous loan?

Thank you for your time,



Dear Justin,

It’s not clear if these are federal or private loans. Navient services both. I’m going to assume these are federal loans.

I’ve written a number of articles on Art Institute and I suggest you review them here.

The issue here is if you have any support to prove you are the victim of fraud by the school. Identified fraud is the most critical key to attempting to get your loans forgiven under the Borrower Defense to Repayment program for federal student loans.

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It’s a big stretch between getting a crappy education and actually having proof of fraud. If you were able to produce that evidence and your claim was approved under the Borrower Defense program then your loans would be forgiven and you would be refunded all the student loans payments you made to those loans.

In March of 2016 the Special Master for Borrower Defense at the Department of Education stated the unit had received 1,109 claims for Borrower Defense forgiveness. The Art Institute loans comprised 10.1% of all submitted claims.

It is not clear exactly how many of the submitted applications for Borrower Defense forgiveness have actually been granted. The Special Master responsible for reporting on the Borrower Defense program stated that emphasis has been placed on looking for “state and applicable law or cause of action” to determine if fraud is a basis for the claim.

In particular the department is looking for details about the conduct of the school that the borrower believes violated state law including, but not limited to:

  • The state and applicable law or cause of action (if available)
  • Specific acts (including failures to act) of alleged misconduct by the school
  • How the alleged misconduct affected the borrower’s decision to attend the school and take out a loan to pay to attend the school
  • The injury suffered by the borrower as a result of the school’s alleged misconduct
  • Any other supporting information that would help the U.S. Department of Education review the borrower’s claim

So if you want to make a Borrower Defense to Repayment claim then I suggest you consult with an attorney who is licensed in your state who can provide you with documentation to backup your claim of fraud and thus be eligible forgiveness.

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About the author

Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.


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