How Corinthian Students Won a $6B Loan Cancellation Battle | Blog

June 10, 2022

Corinthian Student Debt Announcement Dept. of Ed.

Project director Eileen Connor (center) joins partners at the Department of Education announcement on Corinthian student debt cancellation.

 

In 2015, when Vice President Kamala Harris was California’s Attorney General, she found the Corinthian College chain guilty of fraud — and the US Department of Education agreed.

Flash forward to last week, seven years later, when VP Harris joined the Department of Education to finally announce that it would cancel all federal student loans from Corinthian Colleges — relieving more than 560,000 student borrowers of over $5.8 billion in Corinthian debt. It was a victorious day for our clients who never knew when this day would come.

For over seven years, these borrowers fought tirelessly to Cancel Corinthian. This journey was long and full of challenges, but it laid out a path toward what many people said was impossible. It started when a small group of Corinthian students, together with Debt Collective, organized the nation’s first student debt strike and helped establish borrower defense to repayment as a path for defrauded borrowers to have their student loans canceled. At the time, their efforts were called “admirable, but unrealistic.”

But they didn’t give up. When the Department of Education continued to illegally collect on Corinthian debts, borrowers took the fight to court, and together we sued the Department of Education in Calvillo v. Cardona (formerly DeVos) and in Vara v. Cardona (formerly DeVos). And we won — first for Massachusetts borrowers, and now, for allCorinthian borrowers.

To say that justice was long overdue is an understatement.

Our clients have been sharing their Corinthian stories for years. Amanda Kulka first shared her Everest Institute story with NPR in 2018, and then with the Washington Post in 2021.  Andrea shared the horrors of her experience as a Corinthian College graduate with us in 2019. Julie told us about her belief that the government would cancel her loans years ago. Melissa, Natalie, Kenya, Naquasha, Arleen – all shared their Corinthian College stories. And Nathan Horne, one of the original debt strikers, wrote about this crazy journey recently in Teen Vogue.

Their stories, and their bravery, did not go unnoticed. Members of Congress, attorneys general, policy leaders and advocates across the country joined the call to cancel Corinthian debt — many as early as 2018, when we galvanized voices in support of these borrowers. For advocates over decades, this call to do what is right and cancel Corinthian debts never wavered.

There is no doubt that these borrowers should have received debt relief years ago. But in securing justice today, they have accomplished something that many said was a pipe dream — making large scale student cancellation a reality. They’ve proven what can and must be done when predatory schools defraud students.

While we’re so proud of our Corinthian clients for their perseverance, we must also acknowledge the hundreds of thousands of other borrowers who are equally owed debt relief. Borrowers from schools like ITT Tech (a school that is so fraudulent, we released a 200+ page report proving it) or Florida Careers College (a school that systematically targets Black students to sell their predatory program) or other known frauds such as Art Institutes, DeVry, University of Phoenix, and Brooks. For them, the fight continues.

So we celebrate today, and get back to work tomorrow.