OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today celebrated the Department of Education’s (ED) decision to grant federal student loan debt relief to 560,000 borrowers who attended Corinthian Colleges, a now-defunct for-profit college that operated dozens of campuses across California. Today’s decision is the culmination of a decade-long legal battle by the California Department of Justice (CADOJ) to hold Corinthian Colleges accountable for its predatory conduct and to compel ED to process debt relief claims submitted by students who took out federal student loans to attend Corinthian Colleges.
“Today’s announcement is life changing for the tens of thousands of borrowers who have long paid the price for Corinthian Colleges' lies and deception,” said Attorney General Bonta. “For these borrowers, whose only mistake was trusting Corinthian Colleges with their higher education dreams, debt relief has been hard fought and long overdue. Today's announcement is the final chapter in a legal battle that has spanned nearly a decade and three attorneys general. I applaud the Department of Education for finally making good on its promise to provide debt relief to these defrauded borrowers.”
The California Attorney General’s Office led the charge against for-profit Corinthian Colleges and its subsidiaries, which operated schools under the Heald, Everest, and Wyotech brand names, nearly a decade ago, seeking to put an end to abusive practices that left students under a mountain of debt and far too often without the jobs Corinthian had falsely promised its degrees would provide. Corinthian specifically targeted low-income, vulnerable students through false advertisements that misrepresented job placement rates and the value of its educational programs. Corinthian illegally used the seals of the armed forces in its advertisements to recruit veterans. It also engaged in illegal debt collection practices. The California Attorney General's Office ultimately obtained a $1.1 billion judgment against Corinthian for its misconduct.
Following this judgment, the California Attorney General's Office was instrumental in moving ED to implement a borrower-defense process to grant widespread, expedited loan relief to defrauded Corinthian borrowers. Based on a joint investigation with CADOJ, ED under President Obama announced that tens of thousands of former Corinthian students were entitled to federal student loan relief. However, immediately following the change in presidential administration, ED halted processing these claims, leaving more than 50,000 applications pending.
Today's announcement addresses ongoing litigation filed by the California Attorney General’s Office against ED in 2017 for withholding promised loan relief to defrauded Corinthian students. That lawsuit was supported by the California Community Colleges, which lent critical assistance in establishing the concrete harm that ED’s misconduct caused California’s students and public institutions. The lawsuit also received crucial support from the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, the East Bay Community Law Center, and the Project on Predatory Student Lending at Harvard Law School.
Today’s announcement will provide nearly 93,000 Californians with an estimated $960 million in federal student loan debt relief. Eligible borrowers will receive relief regardless of whether they have filed a borrower defense application. More information can be found here.
Attorney General Bonta is committed to holding predatory actors accountable and protecting California students. Earlier this year, Attorney General Bonta obtained a judgment against Ashford University and its parent company Zovio for defrauding California students. Attorney General Bonta also secured a multistate settlement against Navient, resolving allegations of misconduct in the servicing and collection of federal student loans. Previously, Attorney General Bonta announced the successful resolution of litigation against ED after the Biden Administration committed to fixing the broken Public Service Loan Forgiveness programs. Attorney General Bonta also submitted a borrower defense application to ED on behalf of the more than 13,000 California students defrauded by Education Corp. of America.