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02/08/21

WASHINGTON – Senate Majority Dick Durbin (D-IL), chairman of the Senate Judicial Committee, announced today that Diane Bartha, a former Ashford University student, will testify at tomorrow’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing called Student Loan Bankruptcy Reform. Barta will talk about her experience at Ashford University, a nonprofit college recently acquired by the University of Arizona that has long been the subject of numerous state and federal investigations and lawsuits for predatory behavior. Bartha took out student loans for all of her tuition and is currently $ 120,341 in student loan debt, including $ 53,935 for Ashford. She is currently a network administrator and is not eligible to participate in income-based student loan repayment programs. She will testify that she is worried that she will not be able to make student loan payments when the COVID-19 student loan cancellation period ends.

Currently, 45 million Americans have over $ 1.7 trillion in student loan debt. Unlike most other types of debt, student loans are not repayable in the event of bankruptcy, except in very rare cases.

Key quotes from Barta’s prepared comments are available below:

“I received a Pell Grant to pay for my associate’s degree. But I also had to take out loans for the rest of my studies because neither my parents nor I could afford the costs. In fact, I am the only one of my siblings who went to college, let alone graduated. And although I had to take out several loans for my undergraduate studies, the cost of studying at Ashford was much, much higher. I needed to take out a loan of almost $ 54,000, in addition to the $ 30,000 loans from my associate and BSc and almost $ 36,000 in interest. “

“At that time, [Ashford] I sold to many students, including me, the idea that this would give a quality education in a convenient form. In fact, I went to Ashford because the recruiters told me that the program I was starting – a master’s degree in Teaching and Learning with Technology – would allow me to start teaching online as soon as I graduate. After completing my degree, I applied for many online teaching jobs and I wasn’t even offered an interview. I now know that in Bridgepoint and Ashford, five separate states and at least three federal agencies have sued or sued students and others for lying. ”

“In 2012, my husband lost his job as a plumber. At that moment, 100 percent of our accounts, our cars, everything was in my name. So when we couldn’t make payments without his income, I had to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. I cried when I did it. But we had no other choice. And then I learned from a lawyer that I couldn’t include my student loan debt — our biggest debt — in bankruptcy. ”

“I tried to find other ways to repay my loans responsibly. However, when I tried to enroll in an income-based payment plan, I was told that I had made too much to qualify. But who can afford to pay more than $ 1,000 a month just for student loans, especially for raising children? I had to give up loans twice to avoid default. I also recently applied for borrower protection to pay off a debt that I took on a worthless master’s program in Ashford. “

“If I could pay off my loans in the event of bankruptcy – no matter how painful it is to apply – that would be a great relief. I would not have sleepless nights worrying about how I will pay and what will happen to my children, my husband and me if I cannot. “

Barta’s full comments are available. here

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