AG, Elizabeth Warren help students mired in for-profit debt
Peguy Pierre stood inside the Boston University business school Tuesday evening with her 7-month-old daughter on her hip and her 10-year-old son by her side as she worked with a counselor trying to find a way to eliminate her student debt.
The 33-year-old Haitian immigrant, who now lives in Dorchester, registered for the Everest Institute in Brighton when her son Schlegel was born, hoping to find a career as a medical assistant.
“They promised they were going to help me find a job,” she said of her alma mater. “Well, I don’t have one.”
Pierre and about 30 other former students of the institute gathered at BU for a workshop hosted by the attorney general’s office. At the event, Attorney General Maura Healey, joined by Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, tried to help the students fight back against the for-profit institute.
Healey explained that her office had filed suit against the school, alleging administrators used false statistics about job placement and aggressive recruiting techniques to trap students into registering and applying for high-interest loans. The tactic left the students under mountains of debt and the school with profits, Healey alleges in her complaint.
“We sued because you were promised a job on the day you signed the dotted line,” she said.
Healey handed out packets of information, highlighting 10 ways her office believes the school deceived its students. Each attendee was invited to answer questions on a work sheet about their own experience, to be later used in court. The students were also invited to meet with a financial planner, who would help them file a claim for loan forgiveness.
Warren praised Healey for her efforts and vowed to fight for-profit schools in Congress.
“When somebody sells you something, and they lied about it, then you get to call off the deal,” Warren said. “And that includes a college.”
Attendees applauded loudly.
Anita Murrell, a 29-year-old former Everest student, said she is struggling to pay off nearly $80,000 in student loans from two colleges. She went to Everest Institute in 2012 hoping to find the high-paying hospital job the Brighton program promised her.
“I went there because I didn’t want to struggle anymore,” Murrell said. “And now I can barely support myself.”
Representatives of Everest Institute could not immediately be reached for comment.