Watsonville, CA

A nightmare situation turned reality for Heald-Salinas College students after they were given false promises, a faulty education, units that do not transfer and thousands upon thousands of student loan debt. Luckily for previous Heald students, legal aid centers like the Watsonville Law Center has provided legal help and reference to those students applying for loan forgiveness and relief. But unfortunately for former Heald students, waking up form this nightmare isn’t so easy without legal aid.

This article will discuss the story behind Heald’s closure, the three forms of loan relief available for Heald Students and stories from Clients that have applied and successfully received loan forgiveness with the help of legal aid.

Photo Creds (Monterey Herald)

August 25, 2015, was a dark day indeed for Heald-Salinas College students and all the Heald College campuses around the nation that closed down and left it’s students without a place to study, an invalid education, little to no help with job placement, and worst of all, with a HUGE amount of student debt. The school’s closure came about when then attorney general Kamala D. Harris filed a class action law suit suing Corinthian owned schools for misrepresenting job placements from 2010–2004. A consequence that has affected many students that have graduated during and before the four year time period.The Department of Education (D.O.E) has however granted federal student loan relief for those student that meet one of the three methods. The first method for students is called the “Closed School Discharge” in which students automatically qualify if they were attending Heald during the closure. The second method is if the student was attending Heald within the time span of 2010 and 2014 depending on their program of study. Within these days, Heald misrepresented job placements and students that were attending within these days qualify for loan relief. The third and last form of relief is if the student can prove that Heald committed fraud in any way. Despite the fact that almost every student from Heald could probably prove this, the D.O.E makes it difficult and is not clear in what fraud really is under the qualifications of loan relief.

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Legal aid centers such as the Watsonville Law center and many others across California have helped many students file for Student loan relief and assisted selected students put together the application. A client at the Watsonville Law Center and a former Heald-Salinas student graduated from the school in 2014. For confidential reasons he will be referred to as Rogelio Chavez. Rogelio was a first generation student that was essentially tricked into attending Heald granted that he will be placed in a job of his field after graduation. The Watsonville Law center assisted Rogelio with the application and eventually was granted loan forgiveness. He stated, “After attending Heald College and receiving an AAS degree, I thought I would get a job in Medical assisting. Not only did Heald never help me with my job search, I never worked for anything medical related since my graduation. The Watsonville Law Center helped me file my application and helped me actually receive loan forgiveness. I feel like I can now repair my credit score and go back to a real college.” Rogelio raves about the importance of legal aid with issues as this one for those who can’t afford a private attorney for advice.

Imagine if CSUMB, or another campus that you may study at in the future gives you promises that in only 2 years!! you can obtain a degree in your preferred field and have an exceptional chance of job placement in the field in which you got your degree. Promising that their career center is top class and a high amount of their students practice in a preferred field after their education. It is very difficult to turn down an offer such as this one. After all, students are captivated with an education with a high chance of employment afterwards.

This was reality for the Heald- Salinas College students that were given similar promises and now in debt with loans that range up to $50,000 and their degree’s rendered useless. Despite the nightmare Heald closing down caused for many former students, legal aid clinics such as the Watsonville law center could wake them up.