Students at Everest University (also known as Everest College) – one of the schools owned by under-fire for-profit education group Corinthian Colleges Inc. – received some not so comforting news yesterday: their schools are on the chopping block as part of group’s deal with the Department of Education. And that doesn’t come a minute too soon for one legislator who is now warning consumers not to enroll at the campuses.
According to the Associated Press, Corinthian’s largest entity Everest will close campuses in 11 states.
While it was previously announced that Corinthian’s Heald campuses would be going up for sale, students at the group’s other schools, including Everest and WyoTech, were left in the dark.
Nearly 3,400 students got some answers on Tuesday evening when it was announced that closing campuses would include those in Silver Spring, Maryland; Bensalem, Pennsylvania; Chelsea, Massachusetts; Cross Lanes, West Virginia; Eagan, Minnesota; Fort Worth, Texas; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Kalamazoo, Michigan; Merrillville, Indiana; Salt Lake City; St. Louis; and McLean, Virginia, would be closing.
A spokesman for Corinthian tells the AP that operations at the campuses will gradually wind down and that affected students will receive a formal letter once language is approved by the Dept. of Education.
Students currently enrolled at the affected Everest campuses will have the opportunity to finish their degrees, but some may have to transfer to nearby schools as operations end.
In some cases, students may be eligible for refunds under an agreement with the Dept. of Education. Federal law allows for students at closed schools who choose to not continue their education to apply for a 100% discharge of their student loan obligation. Since the sale/teach-out programs could keep those students moving forward with their schooling, the government hopes to not lose out on the $1 billion or more that it could lose through discharge.
Prior to Tuesday’s announcement, the Everest Colleges, Institutes, and Universities Facebook page attempted to reassure current and prospective students that they could finish their degrees.
However, the school said that per its agreement with the Dept. of Education it could not discuss other details with students.
Although operations at several Corinthian schools seem to be reaching a conclusion, its unclear if the schools have actually stopped enrolling students.
A quick look on local television channels uncovers a plethora of advertisements for Everest and other Corinthian operations.
Sen. Dick Durbin from Illinois says in a news release that the six campuses in his state have been allowed to continue enrolling students.
“It is disgusting that Everest Colleges in Illinois have been allowed by the U.S. Department of Education to continue actively enrolling students,” Durbin says. “Every day, I hear reports that advertising for these schools still remains on television and radio – advertising that, no doubt, has been paid for with federal taxpayer dollars. This is appalling. Students in my state should take note: Everest College can’t deliver on its promises. Do not enroll in these schools that are going out of business when there are plenty of good public universities and community colleges that often offer the same or better courses and cost much less.”
Durbin’s sentiments Wednesday were similar to those he and 11 other senators shared in a letter sent to Education Secretary Arne Duncan after the Dept. and Corinthian reached a tentative agreement in late June.
Corinthian, which had been receiving around $1.4 billion a year in funding via federal student loans, is currently being sued or under investigation by numerous state and federal authorities for its recruitment and marketing practices.
When CCI failed to turn over documents related to these investigations, the U.S. Dept. of Education put a hold on its access to loan funds for 21 days. The July 1 deadline came and went without a deal being reached.
Just last week, the two parties announced a deal in which Corinthian must sell 85 schools and close 12 others in the coming months.
Additionally, $35 million in student aid will be released under the condition that it can only be used to pay for approved education activities including student refunds, payroll expenses, accounts payable, interest and related fees, and related professional fees.
Corinthian Colleges Seeking to Reassure Students [The Associated Press]