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Corinthian closing 28 remaining colleges

Corinthian Colleges img80Corinthian Colleges, a chain of for-profit colleges that at one time had 72,000 students, announced Sunday it would end all operations.

Corinthian’s closure follows enforcement actions by the U.S. Department of Education and by states.

The department took action in June 2014, when Corinthian failed to respond to requests for answers about questionable practices, including concerns that Corinthian was falsifying job placement rates, and that it might be changing student grade and attendance information to hide performance problems.

The department intensified its oversight of Corinthian, and the company sold 56 Everest and WyoTech campuses in November 2014.

On April 14, the department announced findings on Corinthian’s Heald campuses placement rate reporting, and it fined Corinthian about $30 million.

When the department took its first action against Corinthian, about 72,000 students were enrolled. Now, about 15,000 are enrolled at 30 campuses in five states.

The closure decision was made by the Corinthian, following its failure to find a buyer for the remaining campuses willing to abide by conditions by the department, said Ted Mitchell, under secretary of education.

The department’s new gainful employment regulations were developed to hold career-training programs accountable and ensure that students aren’t saddled with debt they can’t repay, he said.

Mitchell said the department will contact Corinthian students about their options and post more information on its website. And, the department will send staff to some campuses to talk with students.

He said his agency is working with state community college systems so students have options to continue their education. Students at schools that have closed may be eligible for closed-school loan discharges. Students who were enrolled at Corinthian in the last 120 days will receive information about their options from the department and from loan servicers.

In addition, Mitchell encourages Corinthian students to pursue debt relief with their state, because many states have tuition recovery funds.

"Corinthian continued to deceive its students to the end,” said California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris. “Closure of these campuses should help students get out from under the mountains of debt Corinthian imposed upon them through its lies.”

Current students attending Corinthian’s WyoTech, Everest, or Heald College campuses in California can visit www.oag.ca.gov/Corinthian to find information on eligibility for debt relief, available resources, and the closure status of a specific campus.

“The fact that Corinthian won’t enroll another student is good news,” said Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports. 

The department should do everything it can to bring some relief to the thousands of students who were harmed by Corinthian, Consumers Union said.

Ben Miller, higher education research director for the New America Foundation, said government regulators were negligent and failed to adequately control fast-growing, private for-profit colleges.

“Corinthian may be the first for-profit higher education company to fall, but there is no guarantee it will be the last,” Miller said in The Los Angeles Times op-ed column “Corinthian Colleges: The High Cost of Regulatory Neglect.” “Many of the more than one dozen publicly traded higher education companies are shedding students and campuses.”

Copyright 2015, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist

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