Press Release

Hertzberg Announces Legislation to Help Brightwood College Students

Senators to introduce bill to ensure Brightwood College students in California are not on the hook for the failure of the for-profit college

December 17, 2018

SACRAMENTO – Senator Bob Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, announced today that he will be introducing a bipartisan bill to alleviate the financial burden incurred by Brightwood College students that would have to pay an income tax on their forgivable debt.

On December 6, the Department of Consumer Affairs announced that Brightwood College, a for-profit college, is closing their campuses across California and the nation, affecting 2,829 students in California and over 500 in the San Fernando Valley.

Fortunately, following these closures, affected students are eligible for a federal loan forgiveness program – meaning that any accumulated debt in connection with attending the school may be discharged, forgiven, or canceled by the US Department of Education. However, due to federal regulations, debt forgiveness is considered income and may be subject to taxes. Through no fault of these students, Brightwood left them on the hook for substantial loan debts and no degree to help pay them off.

“From Corinthian College to Westwood College, and now Brightwood College, this happens too often,” said Senator Hertzberg. “When a for-profit college closes suddenly because of mismanagement and accreditation issues, it can leave students in financial ruin. After paying tens of thousands of dollars for a partial education, they often have nothing to show for it. This is too big of a problem to ignore.”

“All too often, students are left with financial implications to sort through and no degree when these for-profit colleges close their doors,” said Senate President Pro Tem Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego), a co-author of the measure. “Students should not have to pay taxes on loans they counted on to further their education. The Senate will continue to aggressively pursue oversight of for-profit colleges to make sure students are protected. I commend Senator Hertzberg for his leadership on this incredibly important issue.” 

“The hopes and dreams of these students and their families have been disrupted. More than 70 campuses across the United States have shut down, including two campuses that are in Senate District 36. I’m pleased to co-author this bipartisan legislation with Senator Hertzberg, Senate pro Tem Atkins, and others to provide some financial relief for these students,” said Senate Republican Leader Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel).

When the for-profit Corinthian Colleges suddenly closed in 2015, the Legislature took care of students who needed loan forgiveness by passing SB 150. Senator Hertzberg’s proposed legislation would do the same for students of Brightwood College.

Please contact Katie Hanzlik at Katie.Hanzlik@sen.ca.gov to be notified when a bill number is available.

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