Former Argosy student dies of cancer but wins
While battling advanced colon cancer, Robert Armor never wavered in his legal fight for student loan cancellation after his school, Argosy University-Schaumburg, Illinois, was abruptly closed.
His effort paid off. Almost a year and a half after pursuing the education department and former education secretary Betsy DeVos, Mr. Armor has succeeded. Before stepping down in early January, the Donald Trump administration agreed to settle the case, which ended this month.
But Mr. Armor was never able to take advantage of his victory. He died last October as the case made its way to court.
“Rob was my hero,” said Laura Armor, Robert’s widow. “He always knew what was right and didn’t want to give up. He would be so proud today. I know I am. “
The Department of Education agreed to pay off the $ 100,000 (£ 70,000) in federal loans Mr Armor had borrowed to pursue a doctorate in psychology and to repay the $ 34,169 (£ 24,000) he he had paid for this debt. Mr Armor had struggled to pay more than $ 1,000 (£ 700) per month on his loans but was approved to have his payments postponed while he was in treatment.
In 2019, Robert Armor sued the Trump administration to overturn the denial of his request for release from the closed school, a form of loan forgiveness granted to students whose schools have closed. Students are eligible if they were enrolled when a school closed, if they were on leave of absence, or if they had withdrawn within four months of the school closing.
After learning that his colon cancer had metastasized to his liver, Mr. Armor took an extended leave of absence from school towards the end of the 2018 spring semester to undergo treatment. While on leave, his campus became part of the first wave of Argosy locations to go out of business. And when the for-profit channel shut down, Mr. Armor asked for debt relief.
The education department initially sent Mr Armor a letter stating that he appeared to meet the criteria and that his application was under final review. But the agency ultimately rejected his request, saying he had withdrawn from school more than four months before the shutdown – outside of the loan forgiveness period.
There is nothing in the request that says leave cannot exceed six months in a single year, but the Trump administration has tried unsuccessfully in court to use the time limit against Mr. Armor. In rejecting the department’s attempt to dismiss the case, a federal judge agreed in November that Mr. Armor had a valid claim and that the denial was arbitrary.
“The Department of Education fought for over a year to deny Rob the relief he was entitled to, and did not give in until we defeated their attempt to dismiss his case in front of a federal court, ”said Alex Elson, senior lawyer and co-founder. from the National Student Legal Defense Network, a nonprofit organization representing Mr. Armor. “Rob didn’t witness justice, but the results show he was right from the start.
Mr. Armor, who worked as a prison officer, had planned to use his doctorate to become a staff psychologist with the Illinois Department of Corrections. Every penny of his student loans was the result of researching that degree. And like thousands of other Argosy students, Mr. Armor was devastated when the school closed before he could graduate.
Argosy withdrew after the Education Department cut federal student aid in February 2019 after learning the school had used more than $ 13million (£ 9million) owed to students to cover payroll and other expenses.
Dream Center, which owned Argosy, the art institutes and the University of the South, was booming financially at the time. The Los Angeles-based nonprofit spent months trying to close and sell campuses to meet its financial obligations, but entered some form of bankruptcy.
Without federal student aid revenues, Dream Center was unlikely to keep schools open. Less than a week after the Education Department’s decision, Argosy’s remaining chain of 22 career schools stretching from Virginia to California closed. Dream Center Education Holdings has since been dissolved.
Mr. Armor never understood why the Trump administration continued to fight against his request for relief, according to his lawyer. In an interview with The Washington Post in 2019, Mr Armor said the closure of Argosy had been devastating enough without the federal government making the pain worse.
“When a giant college fails and destroys thousands of lives, hopefully the government is there to help pick up the pieces, not pile up the damage,” Armor said.
He worried about the outcome of the case but remained determined to see it through even as his health declined, according to his lawyer.
“I was sad that [Rob] had to fight this case for so many years, and I’m sad he’s not here today to share his victory, ”said Laura Armor.
The Washington Post