A former Brooks Institute of Photography student and his family are suing the school’s parent company and lender Sallie Mae, alleging that after he defaulted his student loans ballooned from $120,445 to more than $227,000 based on hidden terms and fees.
The former student, Todd Marek, is suing Sallie Mae and two debt collectors in Ventura County Superior Court. His mother, Pamela Marek-Sykes, and his grandmother, Edna Benis, are suing those companies and Career Education Corp., the Chicago-area company that owns Brooks Institute. Brooks has campuses in Ventura and Santa Barbara.
Todd Marek’s lawsuit alleges that his liabilities exploded after he defaulted because of loan terms that were changed without his consent and unreasonable fees from debt collectors.
His allegations are against Sallie Mae, the largest originator of federally backed loans until this summer, when the federal government became the sole originator of those loans. Career Education Corp., Brooks’ parent, is named in the suit filed by Benis and Mare-Sykes, though it is not specifically accused of anything.
The two lawsuits come as U.S. education officials have clamped down on both for-profit education companies like Career Education and private student loan firms.