Claire Torchiana

  • Hosted by Housing and Economic Rights Advocates (HERA)
  • Sponsored by Anonymous
  • Service location Oakland, California
  • Law school Stanford Law School
  • Issue area Consumer Rights
  • Fellowship class year 2019
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Claire assisted severely debt-burdened borrowers in California in managing and discharging their federal student loan debts, and particularly addressed abusive practices by predatory for-profit colleges and student loan servicers.

Fellowship Plan

Federal student loan debt has grown tremendously in the U.S. in recent years: currently, there are approximately 45 million people holding $1.7 trillion in such debts. Approximately one-third will not be able to make their payments, the majority of whom attended for-profit colleges. This crisis is particularly acute for low-income communities and people of color, who are targeted through aggressive advertising and marketing. Borrowers’ legal rights to various types of federal student debt discharge and to more optimal repayment plans are under-enforced and insufficiently vindicated. Education should be a key to social mobility, personal development, and achieving one’s life aspirations. The industries that have exploited this promise in pursuit of private profits harm students and society at large and must be held accountable

Fellowship Highlights

During the two-year Fellowship, Claire has:

  • Assisted approximately 160 clients with managing student loan repayment and defaults; applying for student loan forgiveness; and student loan servicing issues
  • Obtained federal student loan discharges for clients totaling over $200,000; and $10,460 in refunds from the California Student Tuition Recovery Fund
  • Worked in conjunction with co-counsel on litigation challenging the Department of Education’s unlawful handling of borrower defense to repayment applications

Next Steps

Claire will continue to advocate for robust consumer protection for student loan borrowers at the Student Borrower Protection Center, based in Washington D.C.

Media

Education Department Officials Secretly Rigged Process to Deny Borrower Defense Applications For Debt Relief, Project on Predatory Student Lending

College Enrollment Drops, Student Debt Grows: Will Debt Cancellation Help?

Andrea Campos, like many others, is struggling to stay financially afloat with student loans

Meet Other Fellows Like Claire

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Andrew Neuhauser

Host: Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc.

Sponsor: Ohio Access to Justice Foundation

Erica Pun

Host: Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County

Sponsor: Pfizer Inc.

Michael Deemer

Host: Ohio State Legal Services Association

Sponsor: Ohio Access to Justice Foundation

Maria-Daniel Asturias

Host: Center for Responsible Lending

Sponsor: Friends and Family of Philip M. Stern