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Falsifying data, skewing statistics

The education department says it reviewed data provided by the attorneys general offices of Iowa, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, which investigated and brought lawsuits against The Art Institutes and its parent company, Education Management Corporation.

It found the chain got crafty when it came to making “pervasive and substantial misrepresentations” to potential students about post-graduation employment rates and average salaries by using flawed or made-up data.

A former employee even divulged one Art Institute campus included alumnus and professional tennis player Serena Williams' yearly income to "skew the statistics and overinflate potential program salaries."

The Art Institutes also offered ongoing post-graduation career services, claiming it had a positive relationship with employers despite its negative reputation.

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Who’s eligible for relief?

This latest round of forgiveness brings the administration’s total to nearly $29 billion for some 1.6 million borrowers “whose colleges took advantage of them, closed abruptly, or were covered by related court settlements,” Biden said in the White House press release.

Borrowers who attended any of the Art Institutes’ campuses between Jan. 1, 2004 and Oct. 16, 2017 are eligible for automatic relief and do not need to take any action, according to the education department.

The department notes it will be pausing any loans identified for discharge and will be refunding payments on any related federal student loans that former students have made.

Eligible borrowers will start receiving notifications today.

“In addition to providing critical relief to students, we need to hold wrongdoers accountable — otherwise, executives will continue to exploit students for their own benefit,” says Aaron Ament, the president of the National Student Legal Defense Network, which has represented former Art Institute students since 2018, reports The New York Times.

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Serah Louis is a reporter with Moneywise.com. She enjoys tackling topical personal finance issues for young people and women and covering the latest in financial news.

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