Yesli Vega

Prince William Supervisor Yesli Vega (R-Coles), also her party’s nominee in the 7th Congressional District.

 

After a protracted battle with a lender, Prince William County Supervisor and Republican congressional candidate Yesli Vega paid off her student loans to a shuttered for-profit college that the federal government said defrauded hundreds of thousands of students. 

The student loans were not discharged through a 2009 bankruptcy filing, Vega told InsideNoVa. She provided documentation to support her statements.

The 7th District GOP candidate spoke to InsideNoVa Tuesday after reports last week that she had nearly $46,000 in student loans discharged through the bankruptcy filing. The reports noted that Vega has consistently criticized President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan.

The Biden administration’s plan would allow most people with federal student debt to apply for up to $10,000 in forgiveness. Recipients of the Pell Grant, for low-income undergraduate students, could receive up to $20,000 in forgiveness.

After the plan was announced, Vega said it was “a taxpayer-funded government handout” and requires “hard-working Americans” to shoulder the burden for “the most wealthy among us who hold a majority of the debt.”

Vega later posted on social media that the proposal was “an election year campaign trick funded by you, the taxpayers. It’s unfair to the millions of us that paid off our debt or skipped college to get an early jump into the workforce. Hardworking Virginians shouldn’t have to foot the bill for someone else’s college degree, so that Abigail [Spanberger] can try to buy your vote.”

Spanberger is Vega’s Democratic opponent in the 7th District race.

Vega and her husband, Rene, did file for bankruptcy in 2009 while living in Fort Washington, Md., which is across the Potomac River from the Alexandria area.

At the time, Vega had a 1-year-old daughter and 3-month-old son and had just started as a receptionist in Springfield. Her husband was a Prince William County firefighter, according to the filing. 

Vega said bankruptcy filings require petitioners to list all debt regardless of whether it can be forgiven through the courts, which is why the student loans are listed.

After October 2005, changes to federal bankruptcy law made it extremely difficult for petitioners to wipe out student loan debt through courts by requiring them to show that the loan payments created an “undue hardship” to receive relief, according to the American Bar Association.

Vega’s bankruptcy filing indicated more than $96,000 in debt at the time, including $45,587 in student loan debt plus $1,280 owed to the for-profit Corinthian Colleges Inc.

Other outstanding debts in the filing were:

  • More than $17,000 in credit card debt

  • $1,500 in Virginia state taxes

  • $1,105 in Maryland income taxes

  • $3,879 in medical debts

Vega said she received an associates degree from Everest College in Tysons, which was owned by Corinthian Colleges. Throughout the 2010s, the for-profit company came under fire with allegations that it misled students, including about how their credits would transfer to other schools and its accreditation status.

The U.S. Department of Education concluded in 2015 that Corinthian engaged in “widespread and pervasive” misrepresentations related to a student loan borrowers’ employment prospects, including guarantees they would find a job. The department also said the company made “pervasive misstatements to prospective students about the ability to transfer credits and falsified their public job placement rates.”

In June, the education department announced it would forgive $5.6 billion in federal loans for 560,000 students who attended any of Corinthian’s colleges.

Vega’s loans were through Sallie Mae, which she said worked with Everest College and provided an agreement that she would not have to repay loans until after graduation.

Vega said the company started asking for payments plus interest and fees before her graduation. She said that, plus other financial hardships from the recession that started in 2008, led to her filing for bankruptcy.

Vega said her student loans were not wiped out in the bankruptcy proceedings. After receiving relief, she negotiated with Sallie Mae until 2014 when the company agreed to eliminate interest and fees and seek repayment only for the original amount borrowed.

Vega provided InsideNoVa with signed letters from the company detailing the agreement.

After reaching the settlement, Vega said she emptied her savings to pay off her balance.

Vega said her problem with Biden’s plan has been that it doesn’t address the root causes of ballooning student loan debt. She said tuition costs are skyrocketing and students are required to borrow large amounts at high interest rates that saddle them with debt for years.

Vega said loan forgiveness is a temporary solution and the government should instead be making college more affordable and protecting students from predatory loan practices.

The hotly contested 7th District race carries national significance as it could be pivotal in determining control of the U.S. House of Representatives, currently held by a slim Democratic majority.

 

Nolan Stout covers Prince William County. Reach him at nstout@insidenova.com or @TheNolanStout on Facebook and Twitter.

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(31) comments

Patrick Mcconnell

Inlaid for my student loans and my kids student loans by working 2 and 3 jobs for 40 years. Bankruptcy is not taking responsibility for your choices and taking a free handout. SleeZball move. Is that who should be in the house of rep? Running for office uses other peoples money to get a job she is not qualified for.

LC Mazzit

Please everyone - can’t we just objectively look at what the candidates positions are and make our individual conclusions that way? What if it was a blind election and we voted for people based on what resonated with us vs. what they looked like, what their ethnic origin/gender was and what party they are associated with? Another question to ask is if the candidates parties were reversed, would you still endorse their views? I am a registered independent and have voted for both Republicans and Democrats and while I may not agree 100% with either party, I always look for who will best represent my concerns. I am very happy to said I have great friends who do not agree on politics but we all care about each other and do not let any animosity or political views get in the way of that. Maybe it’s time for a 3rd ‘Common Sense’ party and not let partisanship tear us all apart…

Tom Manson

Your logic is lost on this comment board unfortunately.

John Dutko

That's crazy talk. Voting on actual stances? Pffffttt...

Allen Muchnick

Supervisor Vega's claims and the headline above are misleading:

1) A change in federal bankruptcy laws that made it very difficult to use bankruptcy proceedings to wipe out student loan debt was likely the ONLY reason that Vega's bankruptcy filing did not forgive her student loan debt.

2) "Vega said her student loans were not wiped out in the bankruptcy proceedings. After receiving relief, she negotiated with Sallie Mae until 2014 when the company agreed to eliminate interest and fees and seek repayment only for the original amount borrowed."

So Vega only repaid the loan principal, while U.S. taxpayers covered the interest and fees that Vega had accrued over roughly a decade.

Supervisor Vega is correct that student loan forgiveness does not address the high cost of post-secondary education. What are her proposed solutions to that problem?

Larry Lyons

Like most republicans, it probably is I got mine, sux to be you.

Duke Nukem

Nah, that is your friend Rod down below.

James McCarthy

What is overlooked on this tale is the poor judgment of Vega for enrolling in for-profit institutions widely known for preying upon folks for easy US guaranteed money. The other omitted observation is that the bankruptcy forgiveness enabled her to meet her loan obligations. Bet she would have supported Biden’s loan forgiveness program when she was in trouble. The issue is her judgement as an elected leader.

Duke Nukem

Almost as bad as donating and rallying for BLM. I couldn't imagine how bad I would feel if I gave money to that fraud.

Patrick MacAuley

Good for Yesli Vega! The sad part of this story is that she had to present proof that she paid off her student loans AFTER a newspaper falsely charged that she had the loans discharged through bankruptcy. That newspaper (which was not Inside Nova) could have checked with her BEFORE publishing its fake story. Terrible journalism.

Larry Lyons

Let's see she's lied about her views on abortion, lied about women getting pregnant, she's lied about our education system and crime. Now she's lying about bankruptcy.
She's an ideal Republican candidate.

Dick Grayson

Amazing how fragile little men are threatened by a strong conservative woman of color who does not fall into the group think category!

John Dutko

Her campaign is a literal copy/paste from all Republican campaigns. That is why she shuts down when asked something that has not been panned by a conservative thinktank.

But don't worry, y'all will eventually turn on her because of her roots and your heritage.

George Lawton IV

She’s a very milktose candidate, I’m still voting for her because you’d have to be insane or moronic to vote for democrats up or down the ballot.

John Dutko

Check your spelling.

But seriously, Vega is a "token" candidate and hasn't made strides to court Democrat votes.

George Lawton IV

Nolan..we know you’re a democrat dude. After all just look at you. None of this changes anyones mind anymore. Your schtick is up.

Larry Lyons

When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser

— attributed to Socrates

George Lawton IV

Lol, goofball Dr Lyons.

Larry Lyons

Thanks for demonstrating my point fake George.

Paul Benedict

You mean like calling people deplorables?

Larry Lyons

Shall I start repeating all the invectives and insults that your hero tRump keeps spewing?

Duke Nukem

Hey doc. You can start calling trump the mango melonie. Fascism is back in Italy, you better look out!

Rod McSmith

" It’s unfair to the millions of us that paid off our debt or skipped college to get an early jump into the workforce"

Ahh the old I suffered so should you approach, LOL.

Duke Nukem

Rod, your privilege is showing.

Rod McSmith

That doesn't even make sense.

Duke Nukem

It's obvious to me that you live a life of privilege and if I were a democrat would expect reperations.

John Dutko

@Duke

Dude, you don't make any sense and it's hilarious.

Paul Benedict

Really? You actually think already privileged people should get another privileged at tax payer expense? Sad.

John Dutko

What tax bracket do you consider "privileged"?

Duke Nukem

Surprise the media is going after republicans. This type of activity would be a badge of honor for democrats, but republicans need to bring the receipts. Look at what is happening in Pennsylvania. The democrats plan is to get fetterwoman in there, make her quit and then select the most extreme representative possible. I hope their voter base doesn't fall for it, but we know how dumb they are. Just like the attacks on Herschel Walker saying he paid for abortions. That should get him some democrat votes, you know. I think the race sensitive people here should take a look at that one in particular.

Rod McSmith

When Hershel Walker comes out as anti abortion and then admits he payed a woman to have an abortion it should absolutely be blasted on the media. That's common sense bud.

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