Category Archives: HERA News

Federal Student Loan Borrowers KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!

Group of students standing in lineKNOW YOUR RIGHTS!  Student loan borrowers who are eligible for automatic Closed School Discharges are not receiving them.  If this sounds like you, you should apply for a discharge immediately.  Read the details below to see if you are eligible.

Students have long been eligible for a total discharge of their federal student loans (and refund of any amounts paid) if they: (1) attended a school at the time it closed (or withdrew less than 120 days before it closed) and (2) did not subsequently transfer any credits to a similar program at another school.  This type of relief is known as a Closed School Discharge.

Unfortunately, many students do not know what a Closed School Discharge is.  In fact, less than half of students who qualify ever apply to receive this type of relief.  For that reason, the Department of Education established a rule in 2016 that would grant automatic Closed School Discharges to eligible students.

Under the leadership of Secretary DeVos, the Department of Education has refused to grant automatic Closed School Discharges.  Then, in September 2018, a federal court ruled that the Department’s attempts to delay implementing automatic relief were illegal.

Unfortunately, even though automatic Closed School Discharge is now the law, HERA continues to hear from students who are eligible for relief, but are still paying back their loans.  These students are not receiving the automatic discharges to which they are entitled.

If you meet the criteria described above, it is important that you apply for a closed school discharge as soon as possible. Here is the Loan Discharge Application: School Closure.

If you have questions about this post, you can reach HERA at inquiries@heraca.org.

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Beware of Solar Panel Door-to-Door Salespersons

gus-ruballo-128864Many homeowners across California are being unlawfully tricked into leasing or financing solar panels for their homes by door-to-door salespersons and phone solicitors who misrepresent the terms of the contract.

Recently, HERA assisted the Gonzalezes of Orange Cove, California, who were misled into entering into an expensive lease of solar panels on their roof by a salesman who knocked on their door. The Gonzalezes are monolingual Spanish-speakers and the salesperson told them in Spanish that his company could install solar panels on their roof that would save them hundreds of dollars on their energy bills. The salesman said they would pay $96 per month for 30 years and that they would own the solar panels afterward.

 

He had Mr. Gonzalez sign a contract written entirely in English, which the Gonzalezes could not read or understand. The contract had dramatically different terms than were explained by the salesman, including that the solar company would retain ownership of the solar panels after a 25-year lease and that increased every year to $186 per month in year 25 for a total of over $40,000 in lease payments.  The salesman never explained these crucial terms to the Gonzalezes before they signed the contract, and the company never provided them with a Spanish translation of the contract.

 

The solar panels were later installed, but they did not produce the energy savings that the salesman promised.  In fact, the combined electricity bill and lease payments were about triple of what the Gonzalezes previously paid for electricity without the solar panels.  In addition, the panels created holes in the roof that caused water to leak into the house when it rained.

 

HERA sent the solar panel company a letter rescinding the loan based on the salesperson’s fraudulent misrepresentation and the failure to provide the Gonzalezes with a copy of the contract in the language in which it was negotiated, as required by Civil Code section 1632. Within one month, the solar company agreed to cancel the lease, refund the lease payments and repair damage to the Gonzalezes’ roof in exchange for return of the solar panels.

 

HERA has assisted other clients rescind solar panel contracts that were obtained based in misrepresentations about the terms and without providing a copy of the contract in Spanish after Spanish-language negotiations about the terms.  If you are facing such a problem, you should contact us for assistance.

HERA and LEGAL SERVICES CENTER OF HARVARD LAW SCHOOL FILE CLASS ACTION COMPLAINT FOR DECLARATORY AND INJUNCTIVE RELIEF

December 20, 2017, Oakland, California:

This morning, borrowers represented by HERA and the Project on Predatory Student Lending at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School filed a nation-wide class action against the Department of Education for illegally and unfairly denying relief to tens of thousands of former Corinthian students who the Department already decided are entitled to have their loans discharged and their payments refunded.  Not only were they lied to by Corinthian, they have now been lied to by the federal government.

The case was brought by three named plaintiffs:

  • Martin Calvillo Manriquez was talked into WyoTech’s automotive technology program over community college. He didn’t really have an opportunity to even touch cars or car parts while he was enrolled. The school didn’t have tools or certified instructors. While he was in school, he worked at an oil change shop earning $8 an hour. He kept seeing classmates who had graduated from his program applying for the same low-paying, non-technical job he already had. Most of them didn’t even get jobs changing oil. Martin has never had a job related to auto repair. Even though the Department determined that Martin was misled and cheated, and even though he applied to have his loans discharged, the Department has taken two years of tax refunds and garnished his wages to pay back his loans.
  • Rthwan Dobashi owes more than $20,000 for the same program. He has also never worked in the field.  He is married, has two kids, and is expecting a third. In early 2016, he found out from the attorney general that he was eligible to have his debts from WyoTech cancelled, and he applied. He also told one of his friends from school, and his friend applied, too. His friend’s loans were discharged almost a year ago, while Rick still hasn’t heard anything from the Department.
  • Jamal Cornelius’s attended the Information Technology-Emphasis in Network Security program at Heald College, and borrowed more than $25,000. His debt from Corinthian is the only line on his credit report. He has been waiting more than fourteen months for any response to his application for relief.

All three borrowers, and all class members, are entitled to relief pursuant to the Department’s Corinthian Job Placement Rate Rule, which it has established through countless public statements, previous discharges, and direct notice to tens of thousands of covered individuals. The Department may not now change this rule and apply changes retroactively. In other words, it is unlawful for the Department to go back on its word.

See the full complaint here.

Please contact us at inquiries@heraca.org or (510) 271-8443 ext. 300.

New HERA Brochure

Proud to share our new HERA brochure, find out Who We Are.

HERA Brochure 2017.06.20_Page_1

 

HERA Brochure 2017.06.20_Page_2

Thank you to our wonderful friends at PSPrint for their kind donation to HERA. We are delighted with the results! For high quality online printing you must check out www.psprint.com. Thanks again!

Please contact inquiries@heraca.org to request brochures. You can access a PDF version of our brochure by following this link: HERA Brochure 2017.06.20