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Attorney General Kamala D. Harris, Incoming U.S. Education Secretary John King Announce Expanded Debt Relief Options for Corinthian College Students

Tuesday, November 17, 2015
Contact: (415) 703-5837, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

SAN FRANCISCO - Attorney General Kamala D. Harris will join a telephone press call today with incoming Secretary of Education John King and Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell to release new factual findings by the U.S. Department of Education, which are the result of a joint investigation by the Department and the California Attorney General.  The Department of Education analyzed job placement rates at Everest and Wyotech Colleges, as well as additional evidence provided by Attorney General Harris, and concluded that placement rates were widely misrepresented to both enrolled and prospective students. 

These findings will lead to enhanced and streamlined debt relief opportunities for thousands of former students at Everest College and Wyotech College campuses in California as well as students nationwide who attended Everest University online.  Corinthian Colleges, Inc. owned Everest and Wyotech Colleges, along with Heald College.

“Corinthian preyed on vulnerable students who are now buried under mountains of student debt,” said Attorney General Harris.  “Today’s joint investigation findings will expand the pool of Corinthian students eligible for streamlined student loan relief options, helping them rebuild their lives and pursue a brighter future. I thank the Department of Education for joining my office to keep Corinthian accountable for their actions and providing debt relief to students who were misled."

“I commend Attorney General Kamala Harris and her team for their collaboration in the effort to help defrauded Corinthian students receive the relief they are entitled to,” said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “The results of our joint investigation will allow us to get relief to more students more efficiently.  Helping wronged students is much easier when everyone—Congress, State Attorneys General, accreditors, authorizers and the Department—does their part to protect students and works together.  Our team welcomes help from anyone who wants to follow her lead.”

The factual findings will help students establish a case for “defense to repayment” loan relief (the process by which students may be relieved of loan obligations if their schools violated state law) on a program-wide basis to former Corinthian students who enrolled in programs for which Corinthian published false placement rates.  This assistance is vital to students who might otherwise face the difficult task of proving that they are entitled to relief on an individual, case-by-case basis.

The findings from this investigation apply to Everest and Wyotech locations in California, as well as Everest University online programs based in Florida, and add to the existing findings concerning programs at Heald College – which were also a part of the joint investigation with Attorney General Harris’s office.  The Department of Education expects these findings will allow it to simplify and expedite the relief process for tens of thousands of former students at Wyotech and Everest.  Investigations into Corinthian schools by the Department of Education will continue.

Following the April 2015 announcement by Corinthian Colleges, Inc. that it “substantially [ceased] all operations and discontinued instruction” at all Corinthian Colleges, Attorney General Harris announced an online “Interactive Tool for Corinthian Students” to help former Corinthian students learn more about what forms of relief may be available to them, based on their specific circumstances. 

The tool, available at http://oag.ca.gov/corinthiantool, was updated after the June 2015 announcement expanding streamlined relief to certain Heald College students and has now been updated to reflect new options now available for certain former Everest and Wyotech College students.  It prompts students to answer a short series of questions, which will result in a personalized resource sheet with information about types of relief they may be eligible for, information on free local legal aid organizations that may provide advice and assistance in applying for relief, and information on cost-effective educational opportunities in their geographic area. The Department of Education also has information on debt relief for former Corinthian students at www.studentaid.gov/Corinthian.

In 2013, Attorney General Harris filed a lawsuit against Corinthian Colleges, Inc. for false advertising and deceptive marketing targeting vulnerable, low-income students and misrepresenting job placement rates to potential and current students, investors and accrediting agencies.

Last year, after Corinthian’s failure to comply with federal regulations, the Department of Education heightened its oversight of the company.  In February 2015, the Department of Education and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) secured more than $480 million in forgiveness for borrowers who took out Corinthian College’s high-cost private student loans.

In early April of this year, Attorney General Harris urged the U.S. Department of Education to relieve the student loan debt of thousands of students who attended Corinthian Colleges, Inc. campuses.  Later that month, the Department of Education took action against Corinthian Colleges, Inc, issuing a $30 million fine for misrepresentation of its job placement rates at Heald Colleges.  Other steps taken by the Department of Education included placing Corinthian on heightened cash management, requiring the company to sell or close all of its programs, and establishing an independent monitor to protect students, reduce tuition, and eliminate poor-performing programs. 

Former Corinthian students can learn more about debt relief by visiting http://oag.ca.gov/corinthian and www.studentaid.gov/Corinthian.

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