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San Diego Art Institute students still search for debt relief

$1 billion in relief announced for other students.
Art Institute
Posted at 6:04 PM, Mar 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-22 21:04:19-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- The Biden administration recently announced $1 billion worth of student loan debt was being canceled. The new ruling affects 72,000 students.

Some San Diego students at a shuttered for-profit university said they were not included in that list, but are hopeful for the future.

Sanders Fabares is a graduate of the Art Institute. ABC 10News first interviewed him in 2019 after it was announced the school would suddenly be closing.

“I’m embarrassed, ashamed to have gone there,” Fabares said at the time.

Both he and his wife went to the Art Institute. Combined, they had about $100,000 in debt. Fabares said, despite paying over the minimum for a decade, there is still about “$80,000 let to pay.”

He reacted to the recent news of the $1 billion debt cancellation.

“It’s actually really important because it shows that mass debt cancellation is possible,” Fabares said. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see a lot more cancellation happen because there’s going to be a lot more pressure to put on the Biden administration to continue that momentum.”

The relief only applied to those who already had approved claims from the Department of Education through the Borrower Defense fund. Many Art Institute students were not included in that.

The Attorney General’s office recently announced students defrauded by Corinthian Colleges and ITT Tech will begin to receive loan forgiveness under the recent Biden administration ruling.

The AG’s office, then under Kamala Harris, filed a lawsuit against Corinthian Colleges in 2013. It alleged the schools “targeted low-income, vulnerable Californians through deceptive and false advertisements and aggressive marketing campaigns that misrepresented job placement rates and school programs,” according to a news release.

Fabares said those same tactics were used at Art Institute schools. “There was a false job placement statistics that made the school look better than it was,” he said. “Even before I signed up for anything, I was shown that job placement statistic of 94.7 percent chance of getting a job in my field.”

Similar allegations of success rate inflation were made in lawsuits against the schools.

Art Institute had 50 locations that closed. While some got debt relief through a recent lawsuit settlement, it only applied to about 1,500 students.

Fabares now helps operate the “I Am AI” Facebook group, which currently has more than 9,700 members.

“It makes me really hopeful that relief is possible for Art Institute students because for a long time, they were saying cancellation was not possible,” Fabares said. “This is just showing that in fact it is.”

He is part of a group that is organizing rallies in support of debt cancellation. There is a rally on Sunday at Waterfront Park at 11 a.m.