BOSTON — A Tennessee-based credit union will discharge approximately $450,000 in education-related loan debt and will make available $200,000 in cash refunds to hundreds of affected Massachusetts students in connection with their purchases from The College Network Inc., Attorney General Maura Healey announced today.
Under an assurance of discontinuance filed by the AG’s Office in Suffolk Superior Court, Southeast Financial Credit Union (Southeast), will discharge loans made to Massachusetts students of The College Network, a for-profit company that marketed online study guides and educational services to consumers, including many prospective nurses. Southeast will also request the removal of negative loan information from the consumers’ credit reports.
“The College Network cheated hundreds of Massachusetts consumers by making false promises about their online educational materials and services,” said AG Healey. “This settlement holds the lender accountable for profiting from this scheme and will provide $650,000 in discharges and refunds to the consumers.”
The AG’s Office alleges that between January 2010 and May 2016, The College Network misled consumers by representing that its educational materials would help them achieve passing scores on equivalency exams and earn college credit in fields such as nursing and healthcare administration. The College Network’s educational materials consisted of online modules focused on specific equivalency exams that cost thousands of dollars. The company’s salespeople often arranged for consumers to finance their purchases with loans from lenders like Southeast.
The College Network later became insolvent and was administratively dissolved in 2017.
Two months ago, the AG’s Office reached a similar $898,000 resolution with We Florida Financial, a Florida-based, state-chartered credit union that also extended credit to The College Network’s customers. To date, AG Healey has secured more than $7 million in private and institutional debt relief in refunds for consumers victimized by for-profit schools and online education companies.
Massachusetts residents who are eligible for relief under the settlement will be contacted by the AG’s Office. Anyone with questions about this settlement or complaints about The College Network Inc. may contact the Attorney General’s Student Loan Assistance Unit at 1-888-830-6277 or file a complaint at www.mass.gov/ago/studentloans.
This matter was handled by John Michael Partesotti, Arwen Thoman, Michael Beaulieu, and Glenn Kaplan, all of Attorney General Healey’s Insurance and Financial Services Division.