How Are Corinthian Students Still Waiting for Justice? | Blog

January 19, 2021

Until Its Last Day, DeVos’ Education Department Fights Cancelling Corinthian Debt


When it comes to predatory for-profit colleges, the national chain of Corinthian Colleges is notorious for its scam. So how is it that years after its collapse, the Department of Education is still contesting cancellation of Corinthian College debts?

On Inauguration Day, tens of thousands of defrauded Corinthian Colleges borrowers will have spanned three different presidential administrations while waiting for their fraudulent debts to be cancelled. It’s been five years since the Department made this promise – and five years that borrowers, elected officials and advocates have been demanding the immediate cancellation of these debts – yet former Corinthian students remain in limbo, uncertain of what to expect next.

Just a couple weeks ago in our case Vara v DeVos – in which a judge ordered the Department to recognize the borrower defense application filed by the Massachusetts Attorney General on behalf of 7200 former Corinthian students in the state and cancel their loans – the Department filed a new appeal brief still fighting back against cancelling the Corinthian debts.

It doesn’t matter how many times a judge says Betsy DeVos is wrong (a lot), or holds the Secretary in contempt of court. This administration has worked every single day to deny defrauded student borrowers their legal rights – ignoring their borrower defense applications, stealing their tax refunds, illegally garnishing their wages, and compounding the significant harm caused by the predatory schools in the first place.

As one former Corinthian student, Amanda Kulka, said 3 years ago:

“Everest Institute robbed me of my education – I received nothing but a pile of debt from them. The Department of Education should be holding sham schools accountable, not fighting to make those of us who were cheated pay even more. Cancelling these loans won’t reverse all the harm they’ve already caused, but it would at least be a fresh start.”

Amanda is still waiting for her fresh start.

Andrea, another former Corinthian student, also explained:

“As a single mom, you don’t have time to waste or money to spare. To add insult to injury, they even took my tax refunds two years in a row, which was absolutely devastating. I was counting on those tax refunds, and not having them caused my world to come crashing down. There has been so much time lost and pain endured by my whole family because of this debt, and that can never be recovered.”

That, too, was 3 years ago.

Other borrowers, like Julie, actually believed their government when they were told that their loans could be cancelled due to their school’s fraud.

“When I learned about the fraud at Corinthian Colleges from the attorney general, I was relieved when I found my program would be eligible. I thought my loans were definitely going to be cancelled, and I wouldn’t have to worry about them anymore. My credit would finally be better and I would be able to get a fresh start. This was not the case. Instead the Department of Education stole my tax refund in 2019. I was planning to use the refund for rent, and losing it put me in a hole that I can’t get out of. I got evicted about one month after the government took my tax refund and have been homeless ever since.”

You can read more about Julie’s story and the experiences of many others here.

But student borrowers haven’t been the only ones fighting for justice. Elected officials and advocates have been calling on the Department of Education to cancel Corinthian debts for years.

“These borrowers have gone through enough already – they’ve had their lives upended by a predatory company – and don’t deserve to be further harmed by their own government.  It’s time for Secretary DeVos to fully discharge the federal student debt of defrauded Corinthian borrowers once and for all.” 

      • Senator Dick Durbin. 3 Years Ago.

 “For years we have worked to secure loan forgiveness for borrowers only to get stonewalled by Secretary DeVos and her team of for-profit executives. It’s time to get these students the relief they deserve.”

      • Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey. 3 Years Ago.

Corinthian Colleges was one of the most notoriously bad actors in the for-profit college industry – so much so that many people assume these debts have already been cancelled. That’s not true. Tens of thousands of former Corinthian students are still waiting for the debt relief they are owed, along with thousands more who were scammed by other infamous for-profit colleges like ITT, Art Institutes, and more.

It is outrageous that we still have to say this: President-elect Biden and incoming Education Secretary Miguel Cardona MUST cancel the fraudulent debts of for-profit students immediately.

Corinthian borrowers cannot be expected to wait another day, another year, and certainly not another administration for justice that is so long overdue.