The state attorney general's office is seeking forgiveness from the federal government of hefty loans given to students who say they were misled about the value of a degree from Anthem College in St. Louis Park.
Because for-profit Anthem is bankrupt and no longer in business, Attorney General Lori Swanson turned to the U.S. Department of Education on Tuesday for a process for loan forgiveness.
"This is the only means available to bring relief to students who were sold questionable degrees with overblown promises," Swanson said.
The health-career school began in St. Louis Park as High-Tech Institute in 1996 and closed in 2014. All of Anthem's dozens of campuses around the nation also have closed.
Anthem, which offered training programs in St. Louis Park for massage therapists and medical assistants, collapsed due to plunging enrollment. It had dropped to 190 students when it closed from a high of 540 in 2012.
Last June, the Department of Education established a process for students who were misled by the bankrupt Corinthian Colleges to seek loan forgiveness and appointed a special master to work with students from other for-profit colleges who had similar claims. The government is now in the process of forgiving loans to some former Corinthian students in Minnesota and elsewhere around the country.
Anthem offered certificate, diploma and associate degrees. Its tuition for an associate degree ranged from $26,000 to $40,000, compared to the $5,300 annual tuition at a community college in Minnesota.
Some of its former students remain responsible for federal loans ranging above $25,000, the attorney general's office said.
In Swanson's appeal to the Department of Education, she included sworn affidavits from 15 former students. Allegations against Anthem include that the school falsely claimed that credits earned would transfer anywhere, including to the University of Minnesota.
Anthem also is accused of saying that an X-ray technician degree (which cost $30,000) would qualify for work in any hospital or clinic and was the same as a "radiological technician" degree. Those assurances were also false, the attorney general's office said.