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


Lisa says

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!

Kendell Stiles says

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!

Devon Blackburn says

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

David Sugerman says

Please contact our office privately. Best bet is to call us at 503.228.6474.

Gary says

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.


David Sugerman says

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

Scott Dille says

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?

David Sugerman says

Please contact us privately to discuss.

Tim Eckard says

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

David Sugerman says

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

Akani Gilman says

I wud like to knw if will get anything bak I grad in 2011

David Sugerman says

No. You are not covered by the case. Suggest you hire a lawyer privately.

Mike Hofmann says

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.

David Sugerman says

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

Matthew Quevedo says

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.

Justin N says

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.

Larry Wick says

David, Any additional information on the status of the appeal ?

David Sugerman says

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.

Jameela Schacht says

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.

Amanda O'Rourke says

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

David Sugerman says

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

Jason says

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

David Sugerman says

No, unfortunately, you are not.

Jameela Schacht says

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

David Sugerman says

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.

Jason says

What are the enrollment and start dates to be included in the suit?

David Sugerman says

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


Joel says

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?

David Sugerman says

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.

Cassandra M says

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?

David Sugerman says

Hi Cassandra- No. The case only applies to students from the Portland program.

Jameela Schacht says

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.

Ken O. says

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

David Sugerman says

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.


Geneson says

Hi, I went to WCI in 2004-2005. And have been struggling with repayment. Can I help in any way?

David Sugerman says

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.

Justin says

I attended WCI between 2008 - 2010, am I eligible for this suit.

David Sugerman says

Please call our office at 503.228.6474 so that we can get more information. -David

Jonas corpuz says

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.

David Sugerman says

Thanks for your note. I'm not aware of anyone doing these cases against the Chicago school.

Lindsay Sales says

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!

David Sugerman says

Hi. Our case does not cover Austin students. It is limited to part of the group in Portland.

Mackenzie Ryan says


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

David Sugerman says

Based on this information, you are not part of the class action.

Sarah C. says

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.

Larry Wick says

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.

Jason W says

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.

David Sugerman says

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.

Rose says

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?

David Sugerman says

Hi. I am not licensed in Florida and don't know whether you have a claim under Fla law. You need to talk to a lawyer in Fla who practices in the areas of consumer fraud or debt defense.


Sean karp says

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.

David Sugerman says

Hi Sesn-Those dates are outside our class period. I suggest you talk to a lawyer who handles collection defense cases. If you need a referral, please call or email our office after the holiday weekend.


PS: If you want updates on this slow-moving case, best bet is our law firm Facebook page.

David Kistler says

I attended Le Cordnon Bleu from January 2013 to May 2013 and would like information on how to file a lawsuit or join a current open case

David Sugerman says

Thanks. Our class action does not cover those dates of attendance.

Ken O says

Does LCB closing their campuses have any direct consequences to this lawsuit?

David Sugerman says

Hi Ken-
It certainly confirms what we have been saying for years.

Maurice Arnold says

I totally agree with all the complaints on being mislead into believing that going to Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Arts School. Would be a good school and opportunity for success in culinary field. Not knowing that after completing with A.A.S Degree I would have a $10 (hr) job. That the payment loan would cost me 50k. I'm very upset and can't afford to pay, because my job doesn't pay that much and didn't require a degree. My loan interest rate sky rocketed after told would stay the same wasn't told and made a year worth of payment to find out my balance was the same. I attended twice once 1999-2000 and 2006-07 and I'm not happy about my career choice. I'm stuck with high debt, low paying job.

Mike says

Who do I contact to see if my loan can be forgiven since I still owe over 25000 graduated in 2000 cost only 17000 then

bill evans says

After reading all the comments from past students I've noticed that most of them don't qualify for this suit depending on when they attended WCI in portland, or. I attended WCI from 04-05. Why would I not qualify? Whether I attended in 04 or 2012, we all have been screwed over the same way. I want to be part of the law suit.

David Sugerman says

The Court defined the class based on the filing date. The case was filed in 2008. Under the law that applies, the class could only back to two years before the date of filing.

Jameela Schacht says

You folks are probably already aware of this, but Elizabeth Warren via the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau is pushing for administrative rule (no congressional action required) to ban the forced arbitration clauses that have become mainstay in recent years for big institutions screwing individual consumers.

Three cheers for Elizabeth Warren!!!

Valerie says

I attended Le Courdo. Bleu in Portland from 2006 to 2007 and now have a settlement for a total of $50,000, do I qualify?

David Sugerman says

Hi Valerie- Sorry for the delay in responding. I just saw this comment. I can't answer your question here. Please call our office at 503.228.6474 so the we can get more information.

Cary Baker says

Hello. One of your responses to a question is pasted below:
The Court defined the class based on the filing date. The case was filed in 2008. Under the law that applies, the class could only back to two years before the date of filing.
Did this timeframe cover the 2 students that originally filed this suit? I actually met with you at your office in 2008 for an interview (before the suit was filed). I graduated from LCB/WCI in 2006, but was dropped from the suit as I didn't fit into the "timeframe". I went during the same timeframe as the original students. I would like to be a part of this.

David Sugerman says

Hi Cary-
My apologies. I just found this comment. The court's decision on the time period and who is in the class is still in effect. It was not something that will change.

Dane Murray says

I attended WCI/LCB from 3/2006 to 7/2007 for their hospitality & restaurant management program. Ten years later my station in life has not improved near as much as the reps for WCI claimed it would and not for lack of trying. I attempted to join the class actions lawsuit but was told I missed the enrollment date by a matter of days! I'm curious if anything has changed? I feel like my personal experience with LCB is full of information that may be of use.

Thank you,

- Dane

John says

I attended the Pittsburgh School and graduated in 2006. I dropped out of my computer engineering program to follow my passion for cooking all because the recruiter told me I would make the same amount of money as a chef. I never made more than $11 an hour at any job I could find after graduating from culinary school. I was treated the same as 16 year old high school students working part time. Even working at a 4 star resort, I was treated no differently having my education than people hired off the street with just a GED. Another thing they failed to mention was most places don't offer benefit packages or insurance. After getting married and having kids, I was forced to go back to school and get another degree to actually have insurance, benefits, and make enough money to support a family. If there was class action lawsuits happening in 2015, I have no idea why I wasn't notified or informed. That school was a total scam.

David Sugerman says

Our case is only for the Portland school, and it's a slightly later era. No one who went to your school is included. I am not aware of a Pittsburgh case, but it's certainly possible that one was filed.

Jameela Schacht says

I just checked back on the government website, and they have finally posted details of how to apply for loan forgiveness, if your school engaged in fraudulent or deceptive practices (does that remind you of anyone, like WCI?)
Naturally I am curious about your reaction, as to whether or not our situation with WCI will qualify for this program.

David Sugerman says

It will be interesting to see whether the forgiveness program goes forward with the new administration and--if so--how and what it covers.

Jameela Schacht says

I guess that says best to go ahead and apply asap. Emperor Donald is hell bent on destroying all programs that benefit ordinary people. So "get it while the getting is good."

Devin says

I attended and graduated 2008 from the Pasadena location and am currently 76k in debt with ancient private loans. I've been paying over 500 a month for the past 8 years. Do I have any way to be a part of this lawsuits?

David Sugerman says

Our case is only for the Portland location.

Devin says

Do you have any information about joining the class action lawsuit even though it settled? I was not even aware there was a suite till it was over with


Navient(formally Sallie Mae) has really increased collection attempts. They are sending out emails threatening "further actions" if not resolved before June 29th. I find it interesting this is happening so close to Western Culinary closing its doors.

David Link says

I graduated western culinary in 2000 and did an internship for free because they could not assist me finding a paid one I never worked in the field again and not I have 25000 in loans for a useless certification. are there and lawsuits im eligible for regarding this?

David Sugerman says

Thanks for your inquiry. I responded privately via FB messenger

David Bolding II says

I agree with many of the comments, I actually attended 2003-2005 and Sallie Mae, now Navient shot the interest rate higher then promised. The school said they would assist in finding an internship, but never did, I ended up having to plead to the school to allow me to assist one of the chef instructors. I only worked in the field for a year, never since. There was all this hype and promises from the staff and when all was said and done they did nothing. I now teamed up with a third party and I pay them $100 a month. Anytime Navient calls me I always either ignore their number or tell them to call the third party. Lately, after 12 years they now want to settle for half. No way can I simply write a check for 10k. Know the civil laws in the court they filed. If you show there has been a good faith effort to pay many judges will side with you. Do not let them intimidate you about court. Like here in Texas all they can do is put a judgment on your credit report, and possible liens if you have property or a home. Plus our laws stipulate that they can only take property if your total possessions is over 50k, under that an they cannot have anything and each household member with a license is allowed to keep a vehicle, so they can't take those. Know the laws and never be intimidated by any collector.

san m mouy says

I graduated from the western culinary institute le cordon blue culinary arts program in 2007 and have been in the culinary field for the past 10 years trying to get a decent job. Even though i love cooking, i have not had any luck finding a job they promised me when i started the program over ten years ago. they contacted me right out of high school when i graduated in june 2006 and immediately started the culinary program that same month. i feel cheated and now have over 50K in student loans. I have resorted to getting an actual college degree where I can make some money but now it feels like i am burdened with more debt. any advice or help would be great.

Gary Smith says

Hello, my name is Gary Smith, I attended the Scottsdale location and it was the biggest joke of a school that could be. I was wondering if there is a lawsuit for my location as well. I started in 2007 and finished in 2008. Worst decision I’ve ever made.

David Sugerman says

Hi Gary-
I am not aware of any. I’m not licensed to practice law in Arizona, so I could not even begin to tell you whether a claim might exist for students of that school.

Christopher Hampton says

I graduated WCI in 2000. I was never able to find a job in the field that payed a decent salary and I feel completely ripped off every time I pay the bill. It is a shame that it has been decided that only those who were victimized during the certain set time period are worthy of any relief. I would welcome any information that may help the rest of us. That being said, I am thankful that some justice was done.

Thank You

David Sugerman says

It’s not that you or others are unworthy. The date range is about rules that apply in cases like these. Claims needed to be filed within 1-2 years of graduation. No one asked me until 2008. Under the rules that apply, the class period looks at the filing date. That is how we got back to March 2006. The court closes the class at a date it picks. That was how we arrived at the end date of March 2010. No magic. No judgment. Just rules.

Christopher Hampton says


I certainly didn’t mean to insinuate you were responsible for the set dates and appreciate you taking the time to reply. It just seems to me that once these unethical practices were brought to light that the courts should have set out to bring justice for all that fell victim. Again I would very much appreciate any advice you would feel comfortable giving whether it be as a reply here or to my email.


ranchgoddess says

This is such a scam!! Le Cordon Bleu "College" loans should all be forgiven because the lender and the school were rolling out loans and classes like a puppy-mill... If you go to get a $50,000 loan on a house, and the house is only worth $3,000, the bank won't lend you the money. But they don't even ask when it's an institute LYING to it's students about how much they can make and what their education there is worth. Nor do the institutes divulge to the new students about the barrage of lawsuits against the college before they have you sign on the dotted line. The fact that they said they would/could make a lot of money, and the reputation of the school is equated with TRUMP UNIVERSITY now is even worse!! They closed down the schools here because of that, and the predatory lending by the banks. It was set up to fail and no one cared because they were making a ton of money just like the mortgage fallout. This should be illegal!! F the two year limit. The two years should start when all the "colleges" abruptly closed down and their reputation sunk!! Does that also mean with the class action lawsuits too? I'm so mad I could spit fire. I just learned about this from my daughter-in-law because she's so in debt. I don't want to say anymore because I'll be flagged or arrested... LOL

David Sugerman says

The time limitations are imposed by Oregon law. Not much we can do about that part. But I share your anger.

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