Borrower Defense


Borrower Defense Claims Processing

Over the past five years, roughly 350,000 students have attended programs at for-profit higher education group Corinthian Colleges. The Department of Education found that as many as 75% of those students were misled into enrolling—and taking out federal student loans—with false promises of post-graduation job placement.

Employing a rule from the Higher Education Act, Federal Student Aid enabled these Corinthian students to apply for relief from their related federal student loans. Undersecretary Ted Mitchell asked ED’s Digital Service team to evaluate the system and recommend improvements.

Our recommendations:

  1. Create measurement framework

  2. Improve the digital submission process

  3. Upgrade infrastructure

  4. Build lightweight claim management tool

  5. Automatically submit claims

Key Issues

  • Not enough people submit claims

  • 180,000 unfiled claims; millions more expected

  • Adjudication is laborious

  • Every claim requires human touch

  • 49,000 unreviewed claims; many sent back for more info

  • Improve data acquisition

Our EDDS Team assisted the Borrower Defense team by building a lightweight claim review process, whereby the legal review team is using the same data as the intake and discharge team.  We Created a measurement framework using the above-mentioned SQL database as a single source of truth.

I lead the research and design of a universal online form for any student from any school to build a claim against any school they felt did not live up to their documented educational and job placement promises.

Our user-tested online form wizard leads to faster intake & processing and more reliable data.

Our user segmentation:

Borrowers that fulfill one or more of the following criterias:

  1. Attended one of the Corinthian Colleges’ Campuses or Programs


  1. Believe they were misled by one or more of the following situations:

  • Under-served by school quality of education

  • Misled about job placement rates

  • Pressured to sign-up for school program

Information captured

  • School

  • Location

  • Enrollment Status

  • Loan Status

  • Employment Status

  • User Story: Discernment and emotions about School Experience

Key Findings

Commonalities among users

  • Not aware of BD Program

  • Students accepted into the school/program without passing minimal requirements

  • Students passing classes w/out meeting the minimal requirements

  • Financial hardship due to Student Loans affected many other aspects of their lives

Commonalities filling out the form

  • Access to transcript is unknown - for schools that closed down

  • No access to digital documentation - not everyone had digital and/or physical copies of their transcripts

  • No clear understanding of what documents would help borrower build a case

  • Language of form needed to be simplified