Not long ago, Amber Brown, a student at Everest University, saw an article on Facebook about one of the many lawsuits against her school. The story, she wrote to BuzzFeed News, “dumbfounded” her: It mentioned former students facing mountains of debt for their degrees, but that didn’t seem to apply to her. Brown believed that she was “on a 100% Pell Grant through the government” and didn’t owe a cent.
Everest even paid for her books and her laptop, she wrote, and sent her a stipend check every semester. “Will I have to pay this back or am I one of the few students being treated genuinely by Everest University?” she asked.
In reality, most of what Brown believed to be a Pell Grant was actually loans: A review of documents she provided showed she owes more than $26,000.
Brown, 29, who lives in Kentucky and enrolled at Everest in 2011, has yet to learn that she is going into debt for her degree. (Her last name has been changed because she is a current student.) She no longer has a phone because she is unable to pay the bills, and she sent her student loan documents from a computer at a nearby food bank where she accesses the internet. She has since been hospitalized, unreachable by phone or email.