VIRGINIA, USA — Some federal student loan borrowers who went to ITT Technical Institute are breathing a sigh of relief.
The U.S. Department of Education announced it is eliminating nearly $4 billion of debt for more than 200,000 former students.
The move comes after what federal officials call "lies and false promises" from the private for-profit technical institute.
The automatic cancellation of outstanding federal student loans applies to those who attended from 2005 through its ultimate closure in September 2016.
Nationwide, 208,000 borrowers are relieved from $3.9 billion in debt, according to a news release from the DOE.
"The evidence shows that for years, ITT's leaders intentionally misled students about the quality of their programs," U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona wrote in part.
ITT Tech had five campuses in Virginia, including one in Norfolk.
The office of Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares said ITT faced allegations of falsely advertising the value of its degrees to encourage students to enroll in its programs.
Alongside other states, the Commonwealth assisted with the DOE's investigation into ITT.
"No institution should lie to prospective students or mislead them about jobs and future opportunities," Miyares stated in part.
Close to 7,200 Virginians will get roughly $141.6 million in federal student loans forgiven.
"My first thoughts were, 'Well, it would be nice.' But I didn't know to think about it, because I've actually already paid off my loans," said Hampton Roads native Brian Shields, who attended ITT for a computer electronics program from 2003 to 2005. "At least in my time there, I feel like I got what I needed out of my program."
To this day and in his profession, Shields said he still uses what he learned.
Apart from ITT, borrowers across America are looking for some type of financial relief from their federal student loans.
President Joe Biden has been contemplating forgiveness of $10,000 per borrower, as well as a potential income cap. The White House has not announced any decisions just yet.
Americans are also waiting on whether the administration will extend the student loan moratorium. The pause is supposed to expire two weeks.
In North Carolina, Attorney General Josh Stein touted his office's role as well. Nearly 5,300 former ITT Tech students there will get their federal loans canceled. Stein said that amount totals $93.4 million.