JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – There’s new help for local law students saddled with student loan debt.
If you went to Florida Coastal School of Law, you can apply to get your loan forgiven.
The school closed down last year after its application to continue being a part of the federal student loan program was denied. The Education Department said the school took advantage of students, roping them into unending loans. Now, there might be a way out of those loans.
“I have $250,000 in debt,” Kristin Rhodus, who graduated in Florida Coastal School of Law’s Class of 2010.
Ryan Treulieb, who graduated in Florida Coastal School of Law’s Class of 2015, said, “I have over $300,000 of student loan debt.”
“My current loans are around $350,000,” said Kimberly Lambros, who graduated in Florida Coastal School of Law’s Class of 2011.
Before closing down in 2021, the U.S. Department of Education found that the Jacksonville law school had failed multiple standards, including accepting students that were not eligible and allowing them to take out burdensome loans.
“So with the way that the student loans are, we have basically six months to get a job and start paying it back,” Treulieb explained.
A department official even said last May, “Florida Coastal School of Law operated recklessly and irresponsibly, putting its students at financial risk rather than providing the opportunities they were seeking.”
It’s expected that when you go to law school and pass the bar exam, you’ll have a good chance of getting a job as a lawyer. But that’s not the case for some Florida Coastal School of Law graduates.
“I learned that the reputation of Florida Coastal was not actually as, it wasn’t as good as they made it out to be whenever I first came to school,” Rhodus said.
Treulieb said, “A lot of firms will absolutely refuse to hire Coastal grads because their reputation, and reputation was really going downhill.”
But their student debt could be forgiven under a bundle of new proposals from the Biden administration.
The proposals would:
- Limit how loan repayment plans can collect interest
- Bolster the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program
- Provide loan forgiveness for those who were defrauded by their school or if a school closes
Those proposed changes to the student loan system are now in a 30-day comment period where the public can weigh in. The department said it intends to publish a final version of the rules this fall.
Lambros and the others who News4JAX spoke with said they’ve already filed their applications for the program called Borrower Defense.
If you went to a for-profit college that you believe misled you and you want to apply for that Borrower Defense program, there’s an application you can download from the Department of Education website.
There’s also a list of more than 150 schools that the Education Department found to have misled students.
So far, nearly half a million applications have been submitted. In Florida, it’s just over 40,000.