Borrowers may be eligible for forgiveness of the federal student loans used to attend a school if that school misled them or engaged in other misconduct in violation of certain laws.

This type of loan forgiveness is called “borrower defense to repayment,” sometimes abbreviated to “borrower defense.” Learn more in the sections below to see whether you may qualify.

Borrower Defense to Repayment

Borrower Defense Application
Who Qualifies for Borrower Defense to Repayment Loan Forgiveness
Forbearance/Stopped Collections Status
Common Questions and Answers Regarding Forbearance/Stopped Collections Status
Common Questions and Answers Regarding Borrower Defense Decision Notifications (December 2019)
Borrower Defense Discharge Earnings Information
Information and Resources for Help


Borrower Defense Application

Borrowers who attended Corinthian Colleges (Everest, Heald, and WyoTech) with a first date of attendance between July 1, 2010, and Sept. 30, 2014, and are seeking federal student loan forgiveness through borrower defense will complete a Corinthian-specific application. For more information about forgiveness of federal student loan(s) used to attend Corinthian Colleges, go to the Information about Debt Relief for Corinthian Colleges Students page.

All other borrowers applying for borrower defense MUST submit their application using one of the U.S. Department of Education (ED) borrower defense application forms provided in the sections below. Please read the instructions provided within the application before filling out the application form. Please note that the instructions also include information for parent PLUS borrowers.

To apply for federal student loan forgiveness based on borrower defense, complete an online application form. Within the online application form, you will be required to provide your signature digitally. It is helpful to include additional documentation as part of your application by uploading additional electronic documents (for example, scanned PDF documents). ED recommends you prepare the additional documentation prior to starting the application process.

If you choose to submit additional documents as part of your borrower defense application, the following types of documents are among those that may be helpful to your application:

  • Documentation to confirm the school for which you are applying for borrower defense, your program of study, and your dates of enrollment—such as transcripts, enrollment agreements, and registration documents
  • Promotional materials from the school
  • Emails with school officials
  • Your school’s manual or course catalog

ED and/or your federal student loan servicer(s) will contact you once the review of your application is complete to inform you of whether your application was successful or denied.

To apply via email or physical mail, complete a fillable PDF application form, print it, and sign it (view a nonfillable HTML version of the application form). Send your completed form to the U.S. Department of Education by email to BorrowerDefense@ed.gov or by regular mail to U.S. Dept. of Education – Borrower Defense to Repayment, P.O. Box 1854, Monticello, KY 42633. If you submit your PDF application by email, you are required to upload an electronic version of your signature. You can upload a picture file of your signature (for example, taken with a smart phone or digital camera). If you have additional documents that you would like to include as part of your emailed application, please include the documents with your email (for example, by attaching scanned PDF documents).

ED recommends you prepare the additional documentation prior to starting the application process.


Who Qualifies for Borrower Defense to Repayment Loan Forgiveness

Under the law, you may be eligible for borrower defense to repayment forgiveness of the federal student loans that you took out to attend a school if that school misled you, or engaged in other misconduct in violation of certain state laws. Specifically, you may assert borrower defense by demonstrating that the school, through an act or omission, violated state law directly related to your federal student loan or to the educational services for which the loan was provided. You may be eligible for borrower defense regardless of whether your school closed or you are otherwise eligible for loan forgiveness under other laws.

If you are eligible to receive federal student loan forgiveness, you may be able to have all or part of your outstanding federal student loan debt forgiven, and you also may be reimbursed for amounts you have already paid on those loans. 

You will only be eligible for this type of federal student loan forgiveness if your school’s misleading activities or other misconduct directly relate to the loan or to the educational services for which the loan was provided. You will not be eligible for this type of forgiveness based on claims that are not directly related to your loan or the educational services provided by the school. For example, personal injury claims or claims based on allegations of harassment are not bases for a borrower defense application.

Please note that eligibility for federal student loan forgiveness is limited to federal student loans taken out for payment to the school relating to your borrower defense application. If you would like to apply for borrower defense against multiple schools that you attended and for which you took out federal student loans, you must submit separate applications for each school of attendance.

For the purposes of borrower defense discharge only, we interpret the term “Direct Loan” in 34 CFR 685.206(c) to include Direct Consolidation loans. This interpretation enables borrowers with loans eligible for Direct Loan consolidation, including Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program loans or Federal Perkins Loans, to avail themselves of the borrower discharge process provided here by consolidating such loans into the Direct Loan Program.


Forbearance/Stopped Collections Status

Within the application, you may select to have your federal student loans placed into forbearance or stopped collections status while your application is reviewed by ED. If you choose for your loans to be placed into forbearance or stopped collections status, shortly after we receive your application, your loans will be placed in forbearance, and collections will cease on any of your loans that are in default while your application is evaluated. 

NOTE: If you do not select one of the forbearance or stopped collection options within the application, your federal student loans will be placed into forbearance or stopped collection, and ED will request forbearance or stopped collection for any commercially held Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program loans that you have currently. Interest will continue to accrue for the loans in forbearance while your application is evaluated.

More information on forbearance and stopped collections is available immediately below in the “Common Questions and Answers Regarding Forbearance/Stopped Collections” section.


Common Questions and Answers Regarding Forbearance/Stopped Collections Status

By completing and submitting a borrower defense application, you may have all of your federal student loans in repayment placed into forbearance status and have debt collections on any federal student loans in default stopped (“stopped collections status”) while ED reviews your application. However, please note interest will continue to accumulate on federal student loans regardless of what status they are in, including for subsidized loans. If your application for borrower defense is denied or partially approved, then when you are taken out of forbearance or stopped collections, the interest that accumulated will be added to the amount you owed when you entered forbearance or stopped collections, and the total amount you owe in the future may be higher.

NOTE: You do not have to place your loans in forbearance or stopped collections to apply for borrower defense forgiveness. If you do not select one of the forbearance or stopped collection options within the application, your ED-held Federal Student Aid loans will automatically be placed into forbearance and stopped collections, and ED will request forbearance and debt collection to stop for any commercially held FFEL Program loans that you have currently (as applicable).

Please read the following question and answer (Q & A) section carefully before you choose whether you want the U.S. Department of Education to place your loans into forbearance or stopped collections.

Q.    What does forbearance status mean? 

A.    During any period that your federal student loans are in forbearance, you do not have to make payments on those loans, and the loans will not go into default. This will continue until the borrower defense review process of your application is completed. Your loan servicer will notify you when your federal student loan(s) have been placed into forbearance status. Until you receive that notice, you must continue to make payments.

Q.    What does stopped collections status mean? 

A.    During any period that your loans are in default, if you choose to enter stopped collections status, collections on your loans will stop. For federal student loans that are placed into stopped collections status, the federal government or debt collection companies will stop attempting to collect on the loan, including by not withholding money from your wages or income tax refunds. This will continue until the borrower defense review process of your application is completed.

If you previously defaulted on your federal student loan(s) and have entered a rehabilitation plan, please contact the collection agency that you have been working with to set up that plan in order to determine whether there may be any negative consequences if you choose to enter stopped collections status.

Q.    Which of my federal student loans are eligible to go into forbearance or stopped collections status?

A.    Initially, if you choose forbearance or stopped collections status, it will affect all of your federal student loans that are owned by ED and are being serviced by your federal student loan servicer, including loans that are not eligible for borrower defense loan forgiveness, such as (1) loans taken out to attend another institution, and (2) any loans you have for which you are not asserting borrower defense. If you select forbearance and you have commercially held FFEL Program loans, ED will request forbearance on your behalf.

Q.    Can I remove some or all of my federal student loans from forbearance or stopped collections status?

A.    If you want the forbearance or stopped collections status to apply only to those federal student loans related to your borrower defense application, you must contact your loan servicer after you hear from your loan servicer and your servicer confirms the forbearance or stopped collection status. After your loans enter forbearance or stopped collection status, if at any time you want to remove all of your federal student loans from forbearance or stopped collections, you must also contact your loan servicer.

Q.    Can I make payments on my federal student loans that are in forbearance or stopped collections?

A.    Yes. While your federal student loans are in forbearance or stopped collections, you are not required to pay your loans. However, you are allowed to make payments on any of your loans that are in forbearance or stopped collections, including payments for accrued interest. As noted above, interest will continue to accrue on all of these loans while they are in forbearance or stopped collections.

Q.    What happens if my borrower defense application against the school is successful?

A.    Your federal student loans related to your application may be discharged partially or completely. If you receive a partial discharge, you will be responsible for repaying any amounts that are not discharged through borrower defense including any interest that accumulated. Also, at that time, the forbearance or stopped collections period for any of your other federal student loans will end. You will be responsible for repaying those other loans, if applicable, including interest that accrued during the forbearance or stopped collections period.

Q.    What happens if my borrower defense application against the school is denied?

A.    You will not receive a discharge of any of your federal student loans and the forbearance or stopped collections period will end for all of your loans. You will be responsible for repaying these loans, including interest that accrued during the forbearance or stopped collections period.

Q.    I believe I may be a member of the class that has been certified in the case, Manriquez v. DeVos, because my borrower defense application includes a claim that is based upon job placement rate misrepresentations made by a Corinthian Colleges school. What happens with my repayment status, and what should I do if I am in the wrong repayment status?

A.    For more information about the Manriquez v. DeVos case and the class that has been certified in that case, go to the “Information About Debt Relief for Corinthian Colleges Students” page, under the “Information on Pending Litigation for Students at Corinthian Colleges (Everest, Heald, and WyoTech) Under Borrower Defense to Repayment Rule” section. The “Frequently Asked Questions About Manriquez v. DeVos” subsection provides additional information on how forbearance and stopped collections may apply to your situation due to the pending litigation and court injunction and on what to do if you have questions about your repayment status.


Common Questions and Answers Regarding Borrower Defense Decision Notifications (December 2019)

In December 2019, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) began notifying borrower defense applicants of ED’s determination about borrower defense discharge eligibility. The emails were sent to borrowers from the email address noreply@studentloans.gov.

If you have questions about your notification email that aren’t answered below, call our borrower defense hotline: 1-855-279-6207. Representatives are available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern time (ET).

Q.     I received an email from noreply@studentloans.gov in December 2019 saying that my borrower defense claim is approved. Is this email legitimate?

A.     Yes. ED completed its review of your application for a borrower defense discharge of your Direct Loans under the borrower defense to repayment rules at 34 CFR § 685.206(c) (2017) and determined that your claim associated with your enrollment (or your child’s enrollment) at the school identified in that notification email is approved.

Your borrower defense application was evaluated based on California state law and the circumstances identified in your notification email.

Your notification email identified the percentage of the total amount of the Direct Loans you took out to pay for your program that will be discharged. You should receive notification of your discharge from your federal loan servicer within 90–120 days after you received your notification email.

As explained in the “What happens next?” section of your email notification, wait to receive notification of your discharge from your federal loan servicer.

Q.     Does the borrower defense discharge apply to all loans I took out to pay for my program?

A.     No. This borrower defense discharge applies only to your Direct Loans. This borrower defense discharge does not apply to private student loans or other loans you may have received from programs administered by federal or state agencies, including other programs administered by ED.

ED will proceed with the applicable discharge of your Direct Loans. If some of your federal student loans are Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program loans and/or Federal Perkins Loan Program loans, they are not eligible for discharge under the Borrower Defense to Repayment law or regulations.

If you want to have your borrower defense discharge apply to your FFEL and/or Federal Perkins loans, you can consolidate your loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan and obtain the discharge. To apply for a Direct Consolidation Loan, go to StudentLoans.gov/myDirectLoan/launchConsolidation.action. Once you have your Direct Consolidation Loan, contact our borrower defense hotline at 1-855-279-6207 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET on Monday through Friday to proceed with discharge.

Q.     How did ED determine my discharge percentage?

A.     For approved borrower discharge claims, ED calculated the amount of borrower defense discharge relief by comparing the earnings of those who completed the same or a similar program at a borrower’s school (“median program earnings”) to the earnings of those who completed the same or a similar program at other schools (“median comparison earnings”).

Specifically, ED used a statistical tool called “standard deviation” to identify the range of program earnings that would qualify for loan relief, and then divided that range into quartiles to determine the amount of relief a borrower would be provided. If your program earnings exceeded the comparison earnings, then, even if you filed an approved claim, you will not receive a discharge unless your approved application is associated with Corinthian Colleges, Inc. (CCI). If your approved application is associated with CCI, you will receive at least a 10% discharge. The larger the negative gap between your program earnings and comparison earnings, the greater the amount of loan discharge you received.

The Borrower Defense Partial Relief Methodology tables used by ED to determine relief percentages are provided for your reference. When viewing the earnings charts, note the following:

  • “No Data Available” appears when there was no data available to complete a calculation.
  • The wording under “Program Name” may not match exactly to the program name used by your school. There can be slight wording differences in the program name used by the school and the program name shown in the earnings chart.
  • The word “Diploma” under the “Credential” column, means the same as “Certificate Program,” which is often used by schools.

Q.     Will prior payments be refunded after my discharge is applied?

A.     After your federal loan servicer applies the borrower defense discharge to your student loan account, your servicer will determine whether you still have an outstanding amount (balance) due on any Direct Loans. If a balance remains on your account after your discharge is applied, your servicer will apply any prior payments made on the discharged loans first to the remaining balance of your discharged loans and then to the balance of other Direct Loans on your account. If no balance remains on your account, your servicer will return the refund amount to you.

Your federal loan servicer will communicate with you about your refund of prior payments.

Q.     Will interest be waived in addition to my discharge?

A.     For borrower defense applications received by ED on or before Jan. 1, 2020, ED will waive interest on the federal student loans that it holds for the period between the date you submitted your borrower defense application and the date of your notification email. ED is waiving interest in these cases because of the extended period of time it took to review claims.

Your federal loan servicer will let you know what your remaining balance is after the interest waiver has been applied.

Note: If you receive a 100% discharge, you do not receive a separate interest waiver because your entire loan balance, including any interest, is discharged.

Q.     I’m a CCI borrower and received an email from noreply@studentloans.gov in December 2019 saying that my borrower defense claim is ineligible for relief. Is this email legitimate?

A.     Yes. ED has completed its review of your application under the applicable Borrower Defense to Repayment regulations for discharge of your Direct Loans made in connection with your or your child’s enrollment at a school operated by CCI, including Everest Institute, Everest College, Everest University, Heald College, and WyoTech. ED has determined that your application is ineligible for relief based on review of the facts of your claim and the regulatory criteria for relief; this decision means that your Direct Loans will not be discharged.

ED’s reasons for this determination are as follows:

Applicable Law

For Direct Loans first disbursed prior to July 1, 2017, a borrower may be eligible for a discharge (forgiveness) of part or all of one or more Direct Loans if the borrower’s school engaged in acts or omissions that would give rise to a cause of action against the school under applicable state law. See § 455(h) of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, 20 U.S.C. § 1087e(h), and 34 CFR § 685.206(c) and 685.222 (the Borrower Defense regulations). ED recognizes a borrower’s defense to repayment of a Direct Loan only if the cause of action directly relates to the Direct Loan or to the school’s provision of educational services for which the Direct Loan was provided. 34 CFR § 685.206(c)(1), 685.222(a)(5); U.S. Department of Education, Notice of Interpretation, 60 Fed. Reg. 37,769 (July 21, 1995).

Borrower Defense Claims Based on CCI Job Placement Rates

ED has determined that students who first enrolled in certain programs at certain schools operated by CCI between 2010 and 2014 have borrower defense claims arising from the publication of misleading job placement rates for many of their programs of study and are eligible for a discharge of part or all of their loans under ED’s Borrower Defense regulation. Lists of covered programs and time periods are available for Everest/WyoTech and Heald (the “covered programs”).

In order to have a successful borrower defense claim based on ED’s CCI findings, you must have enrolled in one of the covered programs during a listed time period. ED has established a process for the review of borrower defense to repayment claims for job placement rates asserted by borrowers enrolled in the covered programs at CCI schools during the eligibility period. Each CCI borrower’s application is reviewed under the same process to determine whether the borrower qualifies for borrower defense to payment relief based on a CCI school job placement rate claim.

Q.     Why was my CCI application determined to be ineligible?

A.     ED reviewed your application regarding the campuses you attended, the programs in which you enrolled, and the dates that you enrolled. ED also reviewed data from the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS®) database and, if available, school-provided data regarding your programs and enrollment dates, in addition to the enrollment information on any official school documents that you provided with your application. “You” includes your child if you are a Direct PLUS Loan borrower who requested a discharge for loans taken out to pay for a child’s enrollment at a CCI-operated institution.

Based on that review, ED has determined that you did not enroll in a covered program at a CCI school during the eligibility period. Either (a) the initial enrollment dates or programs you provided in your application fell outside the eligibility period for a covered program at one or more of the CCI campuses or (b) both NSLDS data and the school’s data demonstrated that you were not enrolled in a covered program at one or more of the CCI schools during the eligibility period.

Moreover, your borrower defense application did not describe any other act or omission by the CCI schools that related to the making of your Direct Loans for enrollment or the provision of educational services for which the Direct Loan was made and that would be actionable under state law. Accordingly, ED has determined that your borrower defense to repayment application is ineligible and will not discharge your Direct Loans.

Your borrower defense application was evaluated based on California state law and the circumstances identified in your notification email.

For borrower defense applications received by ED on or before Jan. 1, 2020, ED will waive interest on the federal student loans that it holds for the period between the date you submitted your borrower defense application and the date of your notification email. ED is waiving interest in these cases because of the extended period of time it took to review claims.

As explained in the “What should I do now?” section of your email notification, wait to receive notification from your federal loan servicer.

If you disagree with this decision, you can ask ED to reconsider your borrower defense application.

Q.     I’m a non-CCI borrower and received an email from noreply@studentloans.gov in December 2019 saying that my borrower defense claim is ineligible for relief. Is this email legitimate?

A.     Yes. ED has completed its review of your application under the applicable Borrower Defense to Repayment regulations for discharge of your Direct Loans made in connection with your or your child’s enrollment at the school identified in that notification email. ED has determined that your application is ineligible for relief based on review of the facts of your claim and the regulatory criteria for relief; this decision means that your Direct Loans will not be discharged.

Applicable Law

For Direct Loans first disbursed prior to July 1, 2017, a borrower may be eligible for a discharge (forgiveness) of part or all of one or more Direct Loans if the borrower’s school engaged in acts or omissions that would give rise to a cause of action against the school under applicable state law. See § 455(h) of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, 20 U.S.C. § 1087e(h), and 34 CFR § 685.206(c) and 685.222 (the Borrower Defense regulations). ED recognizes a borrower’s defense to repayment of a Direct Loan only if the cause of action directly relates to the Direct Loan or to the school’s provision of educational services for which the Direct Loan was provided. 34 CFR § 685.206(c)(1), 685.222(a)(5); U.S. Department of Education, Notice of Interpretation, 60 Fed. Reg. 37,769 (July 21, 1995).

Q.     Why was my non-CCI application determined to be ineligible?

A.     ED reviewed your borrower defense claim based on any evidence submitted by you in support of your application, your loan data from the NSLDS database, as well as evidence gathered from the sources identified in your notification email. Each allegation of misconduct you claimed is identified in your email along with the reason that claim failed.

For borrower defense applications received by ED on or before Jan. 1, 2020, ED will waive interest on the federal student loans that it holds for the period between the date you submitted your borrower defense application and the date of your notification email. ED is waiving interest in these cases because of the extended period of time it took to review claims.

As explained in the “What should I do now?” section of your email notification, wait to receive notification from your federal loan servicer.

If you disagree with the percentage discharge determined under the formula or with other parts of this decision, you can ask ED to reconsider your borrower defense application.

Q.     I received more than one notification email from noreply@studentloans.gov in December 2019 about my borrower defense claim. Should this have happened?

A.     There are two circumstances that would result in your receipt of more than one notification email.

  • If you have two email addresses associated with your borrower defense application, ED sent a notification email to both addresses.
  • If you have a borrower defense application that was approved and a different borrower defense application that was determined to be ineligible, ED sent you a notification email specific to each application.

To check the notification emails you received, contact our borrower defense hotline at 1-855-279-6207 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET on Monday through Friday.

Q.     What if I don’t agree with the decision made regarding my borrower defense claim?

A.     If you disagree with ED’s decision, you can ask ED to reconsider your borrower defense application. You can do so in one of two ways:

  1. Send a new email with the subject line “Request for Reconsideration” to BorrowerDefense@ed.gov. Include the number that appears with the words “Request for Reconsideration” in the “What if I don’t agree with this decision?” section of your notification email.

    OR

  2. Mail your request to U.S. Department of Education, P.O. Box 1854, Monticello, KY 42633.

In your request for reconsideration, provide the following information:

  1. What you think was decided incorrectly
  2. Why you believe the decision was incorrect
  3. Any evidence that you believe establishes that you are eligible for a different decision

We will not accept any request for reconsideration that includes new allegations of misconduct by your school. If you include new allegations of misconduct by your school in your reconsideration request, the request will be rejected. You must file a new application regarding acts or omissions by your school other than those described in the borrower defense application identified in your notification email, by submitting an application. In the new application, you should explain in the relevant sections the basis for any new borrower defense claims and submit all supporting evidence.

ED will not place your federal student loans into forbearance or stopped collection activity when you file a request for reconsideration. In addition, if your borrower defense claim was approved, ED will not begin its review of your request for reconsideration until your federal loan servicer notifies you that the discharge has been completed.

For more information about reconsideration, contact our borrower defense hotline at 1-855-279-6207 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET on Monday through Friday.

Q.     Can I apply for borrower defense if I have additional allegations?

A.     Yes. If you wish to file a new application regarding acts or omissions by your school other than those described in the borrower defense application identified in your notification email, submit an application. In the new application, you should explain in the relevant sections the basis for any new borrower defense claims and submit all supporting evidence.

Q.     What should I know about repayment?

A.     ED offers a variety of loan repayment options, including the Standard, Graduated, and Extended repayment plans, which base your payment on your loan balance and interest rate, as well as income driven repayment plans, which base your payment on your income. Remember, that while you can choose a repayment plan that lowers your monthly payment amount, it may also increase the amount of interest you pay over time—which sometimes is significantly more. For more information about student loan repayment options, visit StudentAid.gov/plans.

If you don’t begin or resume repayment when required, your loans may be placed into default. Defaulting on your loans subjects you to collection activity that includes

  • administrative wage garnishment (taking money out of your pay);
  • offset of state and federal payments you may be owed (taking money owed to you by the government); and
  • litigation (taking legal action against you).

Borrower Defense Discharge Earnings Information

In December 2019, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) began notifying borrower defense applicants about its review of their claims for discharge. Some claims were approved for discharge and other claims were determined to be ineligible for discharge. For approved borrower discharge claims, ED calculated the amount of borrower defense discharge relief by comparing the earnings of those who completed the same or a similar program at a borrower’s school (“median program earnings”) to the earnings of those who completed the same or a similar program at other schools (“median comparison earnings”).

Specifically, ED used a statistical tool called “standard deviation” to identify the range of program earnings that would qualify for loan relief, and then divided that range into quartiles to determine the amount of relief a borrower would be provided. If your program earnings exceeded the comparison earnings, then, even if you filed an approved claim, you will not receive a discharge unless your approved application is associated with Corinthian Colleges, Inc. (CCI). If your approved application is associated with CCI, you will receive at least a 10% discharge. The larger the negative gap between your program earnings and comparison earnings, the greater the amount of loan discharge you received.

The Borrower Defense Partial Relief Methodology tables used by ED to determine relief percentages are provided for your reference. When viewing the earnings charts, note the following:

  • “No Data Available” appears when there was no data available to complete a calculation.
  • The wording under “Program Name” may not match exactly to the program name used by your school. There can be slight wording differences in the program name used by the school and the program name shown in the earnings chart.
  • The word “Diploma” under the “Credential” column, means the same as “Certificate Program,” which is often used by schools.

Corinthian Colleges, Inc. (CCI) Programs

ITT Educational Services, Inc. Programs


Information and Resources for Help

If you have questions about borrower defense, you may call our borrower defense hotline: 1-855-279-6207. Representatives are available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET.