The following information is being provided to students affected by the closure of Brensten Education, Inc. (Brensten).
Because Brensten was unwilling to hold the student records and process transcript requests, the EAB has taken possession of all student records. The EAB will be storing and maintaining the records for Wisconsin students at its offices in Madison. To obtain a copy of your transcript, you must submit a transcript request form to the EAB, which is available here. Please allow at least 2 weeks for processing.
Important Note: For students affected by the closure of Brensten Education, fees for the first transcript request will be waived.
Students with federal student loans who were enrolled at the time of closure or 120 days prior to it have 3 options:
The documents referenced below provide information about the federal student loan discharge process and implications related to continuing one's education at another school.
The Educational Approval Board (EAB) believes a loan discharge may be the best option for many students, particularly for those who recently enrolled or whose intended career path may have changed since enrolling.
Students who transfer to another institution in a similar program will not be eligible to have their student loans discharged, provided they are in the process of completing, or have completed the program. It may be possible to receive a discharge and enroll in a completely different program of study, subject to the approval of one's loan servicer. Students who pursue this option, need to complete the new program in order to be eligible for forgiveness of loans taken out while attending Brensten.
In essence, students enrolled at the time of closure or in the 120 days prior to it are entitled to a closed school federal loan discharge if they did not complete their program while at Brensten, and if they are not in the process of completing or have completed a comparable program at another institution via transfer of credits from Brensten.
It is important to stress that students are not eligible for a loan discharge if they are completing a comparable educational program at another school:
A student whose loan is discharged and who completes a comparable program at another school through any means by which the student benefits from the training provided by the closed school, may have to pay back the loan. The USDOE also advises students that they should not to pay for loan forgiveness services and to watch out for other types of scams.
To apply for a closed school discharge, a Closed School Loan Discharge Application must be completed and returned to your loan servicer. If you do not know your loan servicer, log in to My Federal Student Aid or call 1-800-4-FED-AID. Questions about the student loan discharge process, continuing one's education at a different institution, or other federal financial aid related issues should be directed to your student loan servicer or the US Department of Education (E-mail or 800-433-3243).
Former Brensten students interested in transferring credits should contact other institutions to discuss their options. Students enrolled at the time of closure or in the 120 days prior will need to determine if they are interested in pursuing similar or completely different programs of study. Students who pursue a similar program will not be eligible for a loan discharge, if they complete the similar program. Students who pursue a completely different program are eligible for a loan discharge provided the loan servicer determines the program is completely different, and the student finishes the program.
Since students are not eligible to have their loans discharged if they transfer to another institution and complete a comparable program in which the student was enrolled at Brensten, it may not be the best option. Students may be better served by having their federal loans forgiven, and pursuing a new course of study with a different institution, particularly since credits earned at Brensten may not fully transfer to another institution.
Students enrolled at the time of closure of in the 120 days prior to closure who used private (non-federal) loans to help cover the cost of their tuition, such as Sallie Mae, Wells Fargo or other lenders should email the EAB. The EAB may be able to help pay-off some of those loans by using a state fund specifically designed to address school closures, if those loans were used to cover the cost of tuition to attend Brensten. Students who made out-of-pocket tuition payments may also be eligible to receive a refund.
Students who had a private student loan that was used to pay tuition or made out-of-pocket tuition payments will need to substantiate such payments and provide the EAB with relevant paperwork, including a completed IRS Form W-9. Requests for reimbursement must include a receipt of payment, evidence of that the funds were used for payment of tuition (not other education-related expenses), and an original completed and signed W-9 form. Requests must be mailed to the address at the bottom of this page. No facsimiles or e-mails will be accepted.
Students who graduated from Brensten, or who withdrew or were dropped from Brensten before September 12, 2015 are not eligible for discharge of their federal loans under conventional US Department of Education processes and procedures.
Students who believe they were defrauded by their school or that their school violated state law may be eligible for loan discharge. The law requires borrowers to submit a claim in order to receive debt relief. Details on the Act and the process for submitting a claim are laid out on the federal government’s student aid website.
As the website notes, students making claims need to include details about the conduct of the school that the borrower believes violated state law including, but not limited to the following:
Some students work with an attorney to file a claim, but this is not a requirement. Students considering filing a claim may wish to call the federal government’s borrower defense hotline at (855) 279-6207. Representatives are available Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Eastern time to access student loan information and to discuss one’s situation and whether one may qualify for forgiveness of student debt. Questions about borrower defense may also be e-mailed to FSA Operations.
The EAB is aware Brensten Education, Inc. used a financial incentive program known as “Earn As You Learn” (EAYL) for some students. Based on what the EAB knows about the program, it appears EAYL was meant to encourage enrollment and to reward good student attendance and performance.
Although the program was changed several times over the course of the associate’s degree program and not offered to students in later tracks, the basic requirements remained the same: students who maintained at least a minimum (usually 80 percent) record of attendance and minimum GPA were eligible for a “cash-back” payment. Depending on what version of the EAYL program was in effect at the time students enrolled, they could have received total payments between $2,000 and $10,000.
Under current law, the EAB is able to use its student protection fund only to provide a refund for the amount of tuition and fees students paid that were not covered by federal grants or loans. Because the EAYL payments were independent of the cost of attendance, the EAB is unable to reimburse students for EAYL payments promised by Brensten.
Although the EAB lacks legal authority to use the student protection funds in this manner, affected students are not precluded from pursuing separate legal action against the school. The EAB has not been provided with documentation for individual students enrolled in the EAYL program. Students will have to rely upon their records to indicate whether they were enrolled in the program, and to demonstrate whether funds were owed to them at the time of Brensten’s closure.
Students with specific information about the EAYL program, such as a flyer describing the program or documentation about how much they could expect to receive, are asked to email this information to the EAB, along with their name and contact information. This information will prove helpful in tracking affected students and in the EAB exploring whether students may have additional options for working with other entities to address their grievances with Brensten’s implementation of this program.
As part of the program cost, students could take five different certification exams and each exam could be attempted up to three times without additional cost to the student. The EAB has been provided with a list of certification exams already passed by students. Students affected by the closure of Brensten will be able to take any remaining exams at another test center within one-year of their last date of attendance (a much longer time period than would have been available to students had Brensten not closed). The EAB has elected to extend the timeframe for test-taking because of the disruption caused by the sudden closure of Brensten. The EAB will use its student protection fund to reimburse students for the cost of taking certification exams they have not yet passed; for up to three attempts per certification exam.
Students will need to make their own arrangements to take an exam(s) at an approved testing center. A list of approved testing centers can be found on the Pearson VUE website.