Corinthian Colleges shuts remaining 28 campuses – USA TODAY
For-profit college provider Corinthian Colleges said Sunday it had ceased nearly all operations and had stopped instruction at its remaining 28 physical campuses.
The decision affects students at its Heald College system, including 10 locations in California, one in Oregon, and one in Hawaii, as well as other campuses under the Everest or WyoTech names in California, Arizona and New York.
The Santa Ana, Calif.-based company said it is working to provide continuing educational opportunities for its 16,000 students, but it will depend on regulators and education partners.
The decision follows a July agreement with the U.S. Department of Education to sell or wind down all of its schools after the DOE had placed a temporary hold on Corinthian’s access to federal student loan funds over concerns it had allegedly falsified graduates’ job placement rates.
Earlier this month, the DOE said a review found hundreds of cases of misrepresentation of job placement rates to current and prospective students in Corinthian’s Heald College system. The DOE said it would find the company $30 million.
The Obama administration, U.S. regulators and state officials have targeted the for-profit college sector with suits and investigations, charging some with aggressively marketing services and high-cost loans to students who couldn’t afford to pay them back, particularly given the schools’ low graduation rates.
The school operators have said they provide opportunities to career-minded students who otherwise might not get any higher education.
While Corinthian had announced last year it would sell or shutdown approximately 90 physical campuses, but Sunday’s decision took some students by surprise.
“A lot of us are devastated,” Dylan Low, 22, told The Los Angeles Times. He had been pursuing a criminal justice associate’s degree at Everest College-Ontario, near Los Angeles, and had three more classes to finish before his July graduation, according to the newspaper.
Corinthian trades over-the-counter under the COCO ticker after it was delisted from the Nasdaq Stock Market. It had posted tremendous growth as high unemployment rates during the recession encouraged people to return to school. But was hit hard by the various state and federal probes, and after the DOE cut off its access to student loans. The stock trades at about two cents.
In November, Corinthian agreed to sell 56 Everest and WyoTech campuses to Zenith Education Group, a unit of ECMC Group. The deal won’t include the Everest College Phoenix campuses in Phoenix and Mesa, AZ, and Everest Institute in Rochester, NY.
Corinthian says it’s also been in advanced negotiations to sell the 150-year-old Heald College. But progress has been blocked by federal and state regulators. California Attorney General Kamala Harris has sued Corinithian, alleging false advertising and predatory marketing aimed at low-income job seekers, as well as securities fraud. Harris would not release potential buyers from liability.
“We believe that we have attempted to do everything within our power to provide a quality education and an opportunity for a better future for our students,” said Jack Massimino, Chief Executive Officer of Corinthian, in a statement. “We made every effort to address regulators’ concerns in good faith. Neither our Board of Directors, our management, our faculty, nor our students believe these schools deserved to be forced to close.”
Contributing: The Associated Press