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West Michigan student joins nationwide debt strike; refuses to pay student loans

Posted at 5:49 PM, Mar 09, 2015

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.-- A woman who attended Everest Institute in Grand Rapids is now refusing to pay her student loan debt, claiming the for-profit college misled students.

Mallory Heiney is part of the Corinthian 15, a national group raising awareness about America's student loan debt crisis.

At 21 years old, she has nearly $30,000 in student loan debt for a licensed practical nurse diploma she received from Everest.

In 2013, she went to the college to inquire about the program. She said the enrollment process was rushed and filled with empty promises.

"She assured me I would not be paying on my loans through school," Heiney said. "Two months in, I get this bill for over $100. So, I go back in and ask and she says, 'Well, I told you, you wouldn't be paying on your loans through school...this is on the interest on your loans.'"

Heiney said it's those types of tactics that the school used on her and all other students.

She said the school even added in a new fee between semesters that forced students to either take out a third loan or drop out of the program.

"We were not allowed to get our books and we weren't allowed to be there if we didn't take out this other loan," she said.

To make matters worse, eight months into the program Heiney said she learned the school would be shutting down. She said she was given the options to continue to the program as is, transfer to another location or opt out of the program and get her money back.

"I don't know if anything you've told me is true because I've been lied to so much throughout this process, so my choice is option three," Heiney said she told the school's president.

But, two weeks after filling out the paperwork she got a denial letter in the mail, stating she was too far into the program to get a refund.

The Corinthian 15 are working with Debt Collective out of New York. Everest is just one of the for-profit schools that belongs to Corinthian College Inc.

Last year, the Federal Consumer Financial Protection Board filed a lawsuit, claiming Corinthian lured in students with false claims and that they would strong arm them into making loan payments while still in school.

FOX 17 reached out to CCI, but never received a call back.

In 2014, the U. S. Department of Education wrote in a letter that it was denying CCI new school locations, saying the reason for doing so was because CCI admitted to falsifying placement rates and because of ongoing state and federal investigations.

Countless other schools under CCI have closed across the U.S. They're expected to be sold.

While Heiney understands the repercussions of not paying her loans, she said it's worth it.

"I'm not willing to just let my individual repercussions scare me into backing down," Heiney said. "There are too many people that can literally not stand up and say, 'this is wrong.'"