Skip to main content

Hemphill v. Cardona

On May 19, 2022, Student Defense, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), and the National Consumer Law Center filed a lawsuit against U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona and the Department of Education on behalf of former Westwood College students who have been waiting nearly six years for the Department to award them relief from loans incurred by Westood’s deceptive and misleading tactics. The lawsuit, Hemphill v. Cardona, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. 

In November 2016, the Illinois Attorney General filed a group Borrower Defense to Repayment application to the Department of Education on behalf of defrauded students who attended Westwood College’s criminal justice program in Illinois. The group application followed a settlement reached between the State of Illinois and Westwood that resulted in the discharge of institutional loans. However, the settlement did not address federal student loans held by the Department of Education. The agency has since relied upon the work of the Illinois Attorney General to grant a subset of students debt relief, but never acted on the Illinois Attorney General’s application, leaving hundreds or even thousands of students encumbered by unlawful student loans.

The press release issued after this case was filed is available here

On August 30, 2022, the U.S. Department of Education announced it was granting loan forgiveness relief to roughly 79,000 former students at Westwood College, based in part on the evidence submitted to the Department by the Colorado and Illinois attorneys general. The press release issued after this announcement is available here



News Coverage

U.S. to clear another $1.5B in debt for Westwood College students | August 30, 2022 | Washington Post

Consumer groups seek to force Ed Department to forgive Westwood College students’ loans | May 24, 2022 | Higher Ed Dive

Student-loan borrower advocates just sued Biden's Education Department for leaving 'countless borrowers in the dark' over stalled relief | May 23, 2022 | Business Insider

Lawsuit: Student Loans Haven’t Been Canceled After 6 Years | May 22, 2022 | Forbes

Borrower Groups Sue Biden Administration Over Stalled Student Loan Forgiveness Applications | May 20, 2022 | Forbes


Case Documents