Smiling Woman Reading

With Brightwood College Closed, How Can I Get a Refund?

Another one bites the dust! On December 5th, 2018, Brightwood College announced that it would be closing campuses nationwide, leaving thousands of students wondering how they’d be able to finish their degree programs.

On Wednesday, 12/5/2018, Brightwood’s CEO emailed students to let them know their campuses would close down Friday, 12/7/2018, giving them just two days notice before the impending closure date, and leading to a great deal of stress, confusion and misery for students of the now-defunct school.

Students were not informed how to request transcripts, whether or not their credits would transfer to other schools, or what sorts of options they had for continuing on with their education and training programs, they were simply left in the lurch.

Fortunately, this post walks through your options for dealing with the aftermath of Brightwood’s closure, explaining exactly how you can get your Brightwood-related student loan debt discharged and completely forgiven.

The Closed School Loan Discharge Program

The good news here is that there is a path for getting your Brightwood-related debt discharged entirely, via the Closed School Student Loan Discharge Program.

This program was created to help borrowers in the situation you’re now faced with, when the school shuts down before you’ve been given the chance to finish your education program.

Fortunately, Closed School Discharges aren’t even all that difficult to apply for, and unlike controversial programs like the Borrower’s Defense to Repayment Program, are basically an automatic approval from the Department of Education, as long as you satisfy the eligibility requirements.

Let’s look at those requirements, so you can determine if you’ll be able to receive forgiveness on your Brightwood loans.

Get Help With Your Loans!

If you're truly struggling with student loan debt, then you should consider paying a Student Loan Debt Relief Agency for help. Why? Because the people working at these companies deal with student loans all day, every day, and they're your best chance at figuring out how to get your loans back under control.

For help with Federal Student Loans call the Student Loan Relief Helpline at 1-888-906-3065. They will review your case, evaluate your options for switching repayment plans, consolidating your loans, or pursuing forgiveness benefits, then set you up to get rid of the debt as quickly as possible.

For help with Private Student Loans call McCarthy Law PLC at 1-877-317-0455. McCarthy Law will negotiate with your lender to settle your private loans for much less than you currently owe (typically 40%), then get you a new loan for the lower, settled amount so you can pay off the old loan, repair your credit and reduce your monthly payments.

I've spent 10 years interviewing debt relief agencies, talking to all sorts of "experts", and these are the only two companies that I trust to help my readers. If you have a bad experience with either of them, please make sure to come back and let me know about it in the Comments!

How to Qualify for a Closed School Student Loan Discharge

I cover the full details of the Closed School Student Loan Discharge program here, but the basic tenets are that as long as you were still enrolled in the school around the time it shut down, you may qualify for a complete debt discharge.

The specific requirements state that you qualify for forgiveness if your school closed under one of the following circumstances:

  • The school shut down while you were still enrolled, and before you could complete your education program because of the closure
  • The school shut down within 120 days after you withdrew from their education program, meaning you weren’t even an active student at the time of the closure

One other really interesting facet to the Closed School Discharge Program is that you can still qualify for it even if you were on a leave of absence from the school when it shut down, as the Federal Government still counts those on approved LOAs as being “enrolled”.

If you qualify for the Discharged under the conditions above, I would highly advise that you strongly consider pursuing it.

Why? Because transferring credits to another school (which may sound like a great idea, since you probably want to finish your program), sounds like a good idea, but oftentimes doesn’t work out, especially after a school like Brightwood closes because it’s Accreditation credentials were stripped!

Benefits to Closed School Discharges

The biggest reason to consider applying for the Closed School Discharge from Brightwood is that your student loans will be forgiven entirely, meaning that you won’t have to pay ANYTHING back that was borrowed for your attendance at the school.

Another big benefit to this specific Discharge program (as opposed to say a Borrower’s Defense to Repayment Discharge, or some of the other more traditional forms of Federal Student Loan Forgiveness), is that you don’t have to pay taxes on the forgiven debt!

Yet another huge positive note about the whole situation is that Closed School Student Loan Discharges are awarded automatically, without any sort of subjective review from the Department of Education. If you satisfy the conditions of the program, you get the discharge. End of story.

And finally, keep in mind that Closed School Discharges have already been awarded for tens of thousands of students attending other for-profit colleges who also shut their doors without warning, and there are several similar programs already on offer for much bigger schools than Brightwood, so there’s a great precedent for this program actually working the way it’s intended.

Conditions that Ruin Eligibility for Closed School Discharges

Unfortunately, even if you were enrolled at Brightwood when it shut down, there are several conditions that could prevent you from being approved for a Discharge, including:

  • If Brightwood closed more than 120 days after you withdrew from its courses
  • If you’ve already transferred your Brightwood credits to another school and are attending a similar education program there
  • If you’ve completed all the coursework required to graduate from your Brightwood program, and simply haven’t received your official diploma or certificate of completion yet

Basically, if you were still in courses at Brightwood, or if you had withdrawn from them less than 3 months before the shutdown on December 7th, 2018, then you should qualify for the discharge.

The Downside to Closed School Discharges

The big downside to Closed School Discharges are that they require you to sacrifice all the time and effort you’ve put into your education program, since getting one requires you to give up hope of transferring your credits to another school.

And that can mean that you’ve basically just written off several YEARS worth of work put toward earning a college degree or other education credential, but for many students, this may still be worth sacrificing since the reality of the employment market these days is that most students have trouble paying back their student loans.

And that’ll be especially true if you were attending a program that doesn’t have a lot of demand for employees (like something in Social Studies), or which pays small salaries (like Social Studies).

If you were a STEM student, a Nursing student or studying some other high-demand field, then you might want to consider options for transferring credits and completing your program, but if you were studying something fluffy in the Social Sciences, then I’d highly advise reconsidering finishing that program, and looking into options for getting into trade programs or something else that won’t saddle you with huge debt, and may lead to a high-paying, or at least reliable employment.

What is the Closed School Discharge Application Process?

The process for applying for a Brightwood discharge is simple, as the Department of Education has refined it over the years whenever huge schools shut down, so you’ve got that going for you too!

All you need to do is contact your loan servicer to let them know what happened, and request that they start the process of issuing your Closed School Discharge.

It works like this:

  • Your school shuts down, and you determine that you are eligible for a Closed School Discharge because you were still attending within 120 days of the closure
  • You contact whoever services your loans, informing them that your school shut down and that you need to know what they require to process a Closed School Discharge application
  • Your loan servicer provides you with the requisite paperwork, which you fill out and return to them for processing
  • They process the paperwork, work with the Department of Education, and once it’s all complete, your Federal student loan debt is entirely forgiven

That’s literally all it takes to get your Brightwood loans discharged!

One thing to keep in mind here is that you need to keep issuing monthly payments until the discharge paperwork is finalized and it’s all done and settled.

While that sucks, you should be entitled to a refund for any money spent, so just consider it a temporary thing that’ll come back to you when the Discharge gets processed.

Look Into State Tuition Recovery Fund Refunds

In addition to eligibility for the Closed School Discharge Program, you may also be able to tap into something called “State Tuition Recovery Fund Refunds”, which are essentially a way that your state or residence pays you back for tuition and expenses that you incurred at the school.

To see if you’re eligible for these funds, you need to contact your state’s Postsecondary Education Agency, which is the group that oversees higher education in your state, managing accreditations, determining laws, monitoring compliance and enforcing regulations placed on the schools.

The fastest way to get your state’s contact info is to Google “YOURSTATE Postsecondary Education Agency”, and it should turn up right away.

Once you’ve figured out who they are, get in touch with them, explain the situation, and ask if you’re able to access State Tuition Recovery Funds.

What Other Options do I Have?

If you’re stuck with Brightwood debt, then don’t give up quite yet, because you may still be able to do something about the loans under one of the more traditional Federal Student Loan Relief Programs, or Private Student Loan Relief Options.

My website is chock-full of other suggestions for ways to deal with your Brightwood loans, and I would highly advise that you look into some of the detailed Guides I’ve written to walk you through taking advantage of the biggest and best financial relief programs for the type of loans you’ve got.

If you need help with Federal Student Loans, you’ll want to look at my Guides on:

And if you need help with Private Student Debt, you’ll want to look at my Guides on:

If you still have other questions about how to deal with your loans, or even if you just want to vent about Brightwood’s closure, then please feel free to post them in the Comments section below.

I review comments on a daily basis, and will do my best to get you a detailed response within 24 hours.

Where Can I Ask Other Questions?

My site hosts over 100 different Guides on dealing with student loan debt, so simply check out the navigation menu for all sorts of other ideas on how to eliminate your loans!

Alternatively, you could try calling whoever services your loans to ask for detailed on Closed School Discharges, or other options they may offer, or you could even try calling the free Federal Student Aid Information Center at: 1-800-4-FED-AID.

Please Support My Site

Obviously, this site doesn’t run itself – I have to monitor the news, update all my pages and posts, respond to comments, and put a ton of time into making sure everything presented here is as accurate as possible.

If this page helped you understand your options with Brightwood, then please do me a big favor and share it with your family, friends and fellow students! Anything you can do will help, from emailing them a link, to posting it on Facebook, Twitter, or Reddit.

The more people who visit the site, the more time I’m able to spend investing into content, updating my older Guides, creating new ones, and ensuring that people like you have answers when you’re in a time of need!

Thank you for visiting Forget Student Loan Debt, and please do be sure to check back regularly for updates as I will add new information to this page whenever anything of note is released.

Disclaimer:Information obtained from Forget Student Loan Debt is for educational purposes only. You should consult a licensed financial professional before making any financial decisions. This site receives some compensation through affiliate relationships. This site is not endorsed or affiliated with the U.S. Department of Education.


Tim's experience struggling with crushing student loan debt led him to create the website Forget Student Loan Debt in 2011, where he offers advice, tips and tricks for paying off student loans as quickly and affordably as possible.