Sallie Mae collections against Western Culinary Institute/Le Cordon Bleu Portland students?

In our ongoing case against Career Education Corp. and Western Culinary Institute/ Le Cordon Bleu Portland, we’re continuing our work on the appeal. Background here.

There is an interesting development that may or may not be related. We’re hearing occasional reports that Sallie Mae may be upping its collection activities.

Sallie Mae recently sued a family from the Southern California culinary school in court. We also know that Sallie Mae has been contacting WCI/Le Cordon Bleu Portland students about outstanding balances.

The team is on the lookout for cases in which Sallie Mae has filed a collection lawsuits in court against Western Culinary/Le Cordon Bleu-Portland graduates.  If Sallie Mae starts to sue Oregon culinary students in Oregon court, we want to hear about it. It could have major impact on our case and help many, many graduates of Western Culinary/Le Cordon Bleu Portland.

So this is a bit of a reach out to WCI/Le Cordon Bleu-Portland graduates: If you are sued in a collections case by Sallie Mae, please call or contact us immediately. While it would certainly be a frightening prospect if Sallie Mae sues, it may provide us with significant opportunities.

If you are sued, it is very important that you act act quickly upon receipt of the papers. Usually we have 30 days from the date you are served within which to file an appearance. So that would make quick action important.

Because of the importance of this issue, feel free to circulate this to other graduates of Western Culinary Institute/Le Cordon Bleu Portland who are facing collections from Sallie Mae.

Meanwhile, we continue our work on the case against CEC. They may have slowed down the process, but we remain confident that they will face their day of reckoning.

David Sugerman


86 thoughts on “Sallie Mae collections against Western Culinary Institute/Le Cordon Bleu Portland students?

  1. Hey David!

    Thanks for the update. My loans thru Sallie Mae are currently on deferment as I had to return to school to get a degree I could use…

    Anyways, I know when I went thru the process of deferment they gave me a little bit of hassle claiming certain forms weren’t submitted. I still receive mail from them once to twice a month telling me to sign up online.. Plus the email saying the same thing.

    I’m very thankful you’ve taken this case on, however I’m beginning to think I’ve been stuck with a 26k dollar bill for a phantom fraudulent degree. I sure hope our day of justice comes quickly!

  2. 26k seems pretty reasonable to my 49k Lisa. I sure hope this gets taken care of soon. Sallie Mae reps basically scalded and yelled at me telling me I decided to take out the loans and that I would have to continue paying even though the school is being sued for fraud on these student loans. I even faxed them the letter David write for us to submit to them with no avail. I would sure love to be rid of these so I could start living my life!

    Thanks for your hard work David!

  3. I would like to make sure that I’m included in these proceedings as a graduate of Western culinary/ Le Cordon Bleu Portland. I started school in Nov. 2009 and graduated in Feb 2011. If any onther info from me is need this post has my email attached.

    Thank you for all the hard work

  4. Hi David,
    student assistance foundation has bought my loan and has me on forbearance every six months. They said interest still incures while payments aren’t being met. Is this ordinary? Thanks.


  5. I don’t know. Suggest you talk to a lawyer who represents debtors and who understands student loans in your state.

  6. August of 2007, I attended WCI in Portland, Or. and after six months of accelerated classes I owed $37,000 and was not loaned any more $ to complete my phantom degree. Detriment to my credit, I have dropped from an 800 to a 575 in 6 years. I obtained good grades but, they promised financing and backed out midway through the program. Does this scenario sound like I could be involved in the class action?

  7. There needs to be some recourse for me.. I signed a variable interest rate which I was told would never go above 1 to 2%. It is 13.8% and my original loan amount of 32k is now 50k. 500k paid over the life of the loan when all is said and done. I graduated in 06 I believe. Can I get involved? Please advise

  8. We don’t give legal advice on the blog. Suggest you call us to see if you are in the class.

  9. My daughter graduated in 2008 an did not find a decent job. She has since gone back to doing hair and now I am left with 70000.00 Sallie Mae loan. With no way out.

  10. Mike-We can confirm whether your daughter is in the class. It depends on her enrollment and start dates. Please have her call our office, (503)228-6474 so that we can get more information.
    -David Sugermsn

  11. My wife and I still struggle to pay regular bills on top of the loans I still owe to the school and Sallie Mae.There is no significant difference in my pay rate verses that of my coworkers with very limited experience in the field. When I tried to get job placement assistance from the school, they only offered me some good “leads” which they printed from Craigslist. They were posting those same job listings on their bulletin board for all students. one of which they offered me, that I followed up on, was only looking for graduates with slim hours and entry wages.

  12. I was just told about this law suit. What are the years that are in question? I was a student in 2004 and graduated in 2005 form the Management program.

  13. Hi Larry-Still waiting for the Oregon Court of Appeals to rule on CEC’s appeal of Judge Baldwin’s order denying their motion to require half the class to go to arbitration. Meanwhile, our trial team has assembled to start preparing for trial. I am anxious to get back to the trial court.

  14. David and team,

    Not sure how or if you can use this, but thought you should at least see it…

    It’s no secret that there is a rising tide of resentment among students over interest rates and collection practices on student loans. The big banks borrow money at close to zero interest, and use it in ways that continue to trash our futures. While we, the up and coming generation, borrow money for education at unreasonable rates, in the false hope of building a better future for ourselves and society. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer, with the unabashed support of congress for corrupt business interests that finance their election campains. Our hope for a better future is still pitifully bleak, but we can at least hope for federal action to reduce or eliminate the interest on our student loans, and maybe supress the predatory collection practices.

    Looking forward anxiously to seeing some action on the Western Culinary case.

  15. To put a private loan into forbearance, Navient is asking us to pay $50 per loan to bring our accounts current and then there is no way to put a hold on the private loan going forward. This sounds very different than what they have told us in the past, and can’t provide me with any formal documentation that this is the process. Does this sound fishy or normal? Also, if we were to pay to make the loans current, (and the class wins the lawsuit) would we recoup this money? Thank you

  16. Hi Amanda-I can’t really answer questions here because of confidentiality issues. Feel free to call us at 503.228.6474, and I will see if I can answer some of your questions. (Guessing that there may be a few “I don’t knows….”) -David

  17. If I graduated in 2003, would I be eligible for this suit? I’m still paying off student loans 12 years later.

  18. Here is an interesting excerpt from a blog about the recent demise of Corinthian College and Everest College …..

    “The Department of Education is using a federal law that allows those enticed to borrow through fraudulent means to discharge the debt. The agency is setting up a process by which those with student loans can apply to the department to have their debts forgiven if they can prove fraud on the part of the learning institution.

    The story goes that Everest College and other branches of the Corinthian Colleges franchise used false information to lure students into borrowing money to pay tuition.

    Corinthian paid a temp agency to hire its grads for a few days, just to improve its employment rates post-graduation. This gave prospective students a false sense of future employment prospects when it came to attending these colleges, and therefore taking out student loans.”

    That situation is not a carbon copy of the WCI circumstances, but very similar. So if WCI loses this case, will that law allow the victims to discharge their student loan debt? I never heard of that federal law referenced above, but hopefully you have, and you can venture an opinion about whether it would apply in the case of WCI students. Would it require a criminal fraud conviction, or an admission of wrongdoing by WCI?

    Thanks for your help

  19. Hi Jameela-Thanks for the note. We are following these developments, too. It is interesting, and maybe something good comes out of it. Depending on what process comes out of it, there might be some relief. My understanding–which is limited to what I read in the press–is that the Dept of Education is talking about a process for government loans. Not clear to me that the process would apply to private loans. Lots of the people who attended CEC schools have private loans, too.

    Thanks for staying involved.

  20. Hi Jason-The students included enrolled and attended between March 5, 2006 and March 1, 2010.


  21. Sallie Mae also attempted to foreclose on me as well. I attended Le Cordon Bleu in Pittsburgh. Recently they have changed their name to Naviant, I’m assuming to help cover their tracks. Anyone dealing with a PA lawsuit?

  22. Hi Joel-I am not aware of anyone who is taking on the Pittsburgh cases. Depending on the dates, many of the schools’ enrollment agreements had fine-print clauses that required students to arbitrate their cases and banned class actions. These forced arbitration clsuses make it very difficult for consumer lawyers to handle these cases. That said,met might be worth asking a Pennsylvania consumer lawyer to review your situation.

  23. Hello! I attended Le Cordon Bleu in Minneapolis Minnesota and attended from July of 2008 and graduated the following year.. Am I eligible for this suite?

  24. Is there any noteworthy legislative activity, at state or federal levels, to ban or nullify contract clauses that forbid participation in class action lawsuits? Such clauses are nigh onto a “get out of jail free” card for businesses who profit by screwing their clients.

  25. Are we still tied up in red tape?
    Are there any similarities between the Portland case and the recently concluded LCB-California case?

  26. Hi Ken-
    Yes, we are still waiting for the Oregon Court of Appeals to rule. I looked this up earlier today. The appeal started three years ago. The briefing was completed more than two years ago. Oral argument was 15 months ago. The level of delay is both staggering and frustrating.

    As for the LCB CA. case, that actually concluded several years ago. The recent reports were a rerun of the older settlement. The cases are somewhat similar and somewhat different.

    Thanks for checking in and for your patience.


  27. Thanks for your comment. Your era is a bit of our case, so I don’t think there is much you can do to assist. But thanks for asking.

  28. Good evening David,

    I’m aware that this is for Portland. I attended le cordon bleu in Chicago 2005-2008. I was just wondering if you had informed of who I can contact regarding this class action lawsuit. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you very much.

  29. Hello, I wasn’t in the loop when the lawsuits took place. I am a graduate from the school in Austin and owe about 40,000 in loans. When I graduated I worked in a very popular restaurant only making $10/HR with other co-workers who didn’t go to school for culinary arts. I thought I woukd post here and see if someone replies. Thank you!

  30. Hello,

    I attended WCI from June 2005-October 2006. Am I included in this case? I would be very interested in learning more.

  31. Hi David- I “graduated” in October 2010. I want in on the auit, but what’s happening now that US campuses are closing for good? Please email me.

  32. See the somewhat parallel stream under “Update: Western Culinary.”

    Regardless of the “Le Cordon Bleu” school you attended, the relatively new U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau [] has been accepting honest online and mailed complaints for deceitful and other illegal practices against education loan companies, servicers, loan buyers etc……Don’t be afraid of those companies– many of them will grab whatever money you send them, demand more money, threaten litigations, etc. Some are legitimate and reasonable, but many of them prey on the trusting and the gullible. {There have been a few reports of student loan litigation around the country.] Even honest education loan companies have gotten caught up in frauds allegedly perpetrated by some of these for-profit schools’ “student loan officers”, “financial counselors,” etc.– rumors of past kickbacks etc.

    Also, check the websites of the U.S. Department of Education and of the Attorney General’s Offices [or Department of Justice] of the states where you live and where you attended that school. Apparently, 17 or more of the States’ Attorneys’ General have joined forces against Career Education Corporation of Schaumburg, Illinois and all of its “Le Cordon Bleu” cooking schools– and they have subpoena powers.

  33. I attended Pittsburgh LCB 06-08 I now owe over 100k in school loan debt because of default. My loans were involved in a class action suit with Sallie mae over unfair interest rates for servicemen because my loans are at 13.75 interest rates that the still charge me every month. Is there anyone with any information about anyone pursuing the Pittsburgh branch. This school ruined my credit and my future please help.

  34. I am not aware of cases in Pittsburgh. You might look for a lawyer in PA who has experience in consumer protection or consumer fraud areas.

  35. Hi, I attended LCB in Miramar, FL, I graduated in 2006. My first job in the culinary industry was in a kitchen earning 8 dollars an hour. I found this job through LCB; reps from LCB told me that I would be earning much more after I gained some experience and to accept the 8 dollars an hr offer. I worked with this restaurant for 6 months and couldn’t handle it because I was the only woman in the back of the kitchen. I decided to quit because on top of everything, the restaurant had a program where they hire prison inmates that are almost done with their sentences to wash dishes and prep the cooking stations. I was exposed to constant harassment and sexual comments from the other male employees, would leave the job crying every day. After 5 months I quit and decided to go back to school to study a degree where I could actually earn enough to pay my LCB debt. My loan was for 30k with a variable interest. Since then my loan has gone up from 30k to 97k. When enrolling I was told by the LCB reps my interests were variable but not to worry because the highest they could go was from 3% to 5% and since then these interest went from 3% to 18%. I have tried to settle my debt but last time I spoke to the loan company, sallie mae, who is now Navient, I was told the lowest monthly payment I needed to make was $900.00 dollars a month; I told them the most based on my budget that I could pay was 400 and to please accept it, their reply was a big NO, it’s either 900 or your loan will go into default. My credit has been ruined, I do not owe anything else on my credit, just them. I cannot even apply for a 200 dollar Victorias secret credit card and have lost all hope to have a credit in this country. Is there anything that can be done in the state of Florida?

  36. Hi, I attended WCI from ’97-’98 and was unable at all to get work following. I later received a letter stating all my loans are discharged and heard nothing after for about 4 years then mishigas after. Currently I have Navient claiming I owe them money for those old loans, or something similar (I have no clear idea on that & they will not explain), but all they have given me is 3 letters stating they have no copy of the promissory note. So to pass the time I charge them $100/hr consultancy for calling my business line (having warned them to stop). Given that Le Cordon Bleu/WCI is going away would it be too much trouble to ask that my name be placed on a list to be contacted via group email about the outcome of your case? It might help to make them go away. Thanks much!

    BTW they claim I owe $4800. I have billed them so far for $800. If they call me 40 more times/hours I will have a bill for them of equal size.

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