North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein

In this Wednesday, March 22, 2017, file photo, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein speaks at a roundtable discussion at the Gastonia Police Department community room in Gastonia, North Carolina. Stein has filed an amicus brief defending the states’ ability to enforce state and federal consumer protection laws against student loan companies.

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein and 29 other attorneys general sent a letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos calling on her to help students who hold debt for schools that were closed unexpectedly.

The attorneys general want DeVos to release students who were enrolled at schools operated by Dream Center Education Holdings LLC from student debt.

“Dream Center failed to give students the information they needed to make decisions about their educational and financial future when their schools abruptly closed,” Stein said. “These students should not be on the hook for student debt caused by corporate mismanagement. Secretary DeVos can give these students a fresh start – I urge her to do so.”

Dream Center announced that it would be closing all of its North Carolina schools in July 2018. Stein stepped in and asked the center to provide a closing date, he said. But instead of doing so, school officials closed the school without making prior arrangements with the students, according to Stein.

Stein said Dream Center needed to provide the date and other pivotal information so that students could apply for a closed school discharge.

The federal government allows students to be 100 percent exempted from their student loans if they were enrolled or on an approved leave of absence when a school closed or the school closed within 120 days after they withdrew. 

The attorneys general are asking DeVos to extend the eligibility period for the closed school discharge so that the reportedly tens of thousands of students affected could be released from the debt.

Attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin cosigned the letter.

“These closures prevented students from completing their programs of study, leaving borrowers with substantial student loan debt and nothing to show for it,” Stein said.

Staff Reporter

Nyamekye Daniel has been a journalist for three years. She was the managing editor for the South Florida Media Network and a staff writer for The Miami Times. Daniel's work has also appeared in the Sun-Sentinel, Miami Herald and The New York Times.