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Corinthian College is closed, but former students still suffer

Charlene Crowell | 9/1/2017, midnight
A scheme designed to evade an important Department of Education rule could soon lead to an estimated 41,000 former Corinthian ...

Earlier this year, the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL) released a series of research reports on for-profit colleges. Findings revealed that for-profit students have lower graduation rates and carry heavier debt loads than their counterparts at private, non-profit and public schools. The research also uncovered that students of color are disproportionately enrolled in for-profit colleges in Connecticut, Colorado and Maine. Though these states have comparatively few residents of color, students of color were heavily recruited.

“Many for-profit college students are working hard to break into the middle class and build financial security for themselves and often their families,” said Lisa Stifler, CRL’s deputy state policy director. “Our research shows the anguishing outcomes of high debt, no degree and few promising job prospects that fall more heavily on people of color.”

These findings and others underscore the fact that as higher education costs continue to climb, the choice of institution is ever more important. Just as a combination of state and federal resources were needed to bring former Corinthian College students closer to financial justice, it will take continued efforts at both levels of government that are watchful of the quality of education offered.

Recent rollbacks in consumer protections from the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) do not bode well for student borrowers. For example, the Gainful Employment rule developed under the Obama Administration holds hundreds of career colleges accountable for the education students received. Earlier in August, DOE announced its intention to “reduce the burden on institutions” by extending appeal deadlines involving schools that failed the rule.

Further, instead of objective measures to determine regulatory compliance, appeals will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. These institutions may also continue to enroll students dependent upon federal financial aid—even during appeal.

"Unfortunately, Corinthian is not alone in abuses that harm students," added Stifler. "State and federal regulators must continue to crack down on the widespread problems that exist among for-profit schools.”

Charlene Crowell is the communications deputy director with the Center for Responsible Lending. She can be reached at Charlene.crowell@responsiblelending.org.