Student Loan Truth: For Former Corinthian Students, a Never-Ending Road to Justice | Blog
September 10, 2021
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 – yet.
While the Department of Education did announce recently that it would drop its appeal in our case Vara v Cardona, granting 7,200 Corinthian borrowers in Massachusetts the justice they are owed, tens of thousands of former Corinthian students who are equally deserving of action are still waiting. And for those in Massachusetts, many will only believe it’s true when they actually see those debts disappear from the credit reports.
It’s no wonder they are skeptical. It’s been 6 years since Corinthian collapsed and the Massachusetts attorney general filed a borrower defense claim on the students’ behalf. One year since a federal judge ordered the application to be approved and the loans cancelled. These borrowers have seen multiple administrations come and go, multiple lawsuits, countless broken promises, and a pandemic – all while they wait and suffer with debts they never should have had in the first place.
Now, they are finally starting to see a glimmer of light at the end of this long dark road.
“I want to be optimistic, but I’ve been waiting for so long,” Amanda Kulka, a former student of Everest College (a Corinthian school), recently told the Washington Post.
While Amanda and the 7,200 Massachusetts borrowers won’t have to wait much longer, there are thousands more who continue to wait, holding on to a glimmer of hope that this administration will finally make things right. But that wait doesn’t come without consequences. For Amanda, that wait is acutely felt as the burden of this debt has been felt throughout her 15 year old son’s entire life.
“I really had lost hope that this day would ever come. I was 19 with a one year old child when Everest Institute scammed me into believing their program would give me and my son the chance for a better future. My son is in high school now,” she says.
For others, the debt has impacted their ability to get a mortgage, a car, go back to school, and even get a job. You can read many of their stories here.
“Right now, I’m in a place where I can’t do anything without this debt eating away at me,” Kulka said. “It may seem small, but it’s been on my record for so long that trying to get a loan is a horrible experience.”
While her debt of $10,000 may not seem like a huge amount to some, Amanda explains that as a young single mom living to paycheck to paycheck, it is an impossible burden. When faced every day with the decision of whether to provide for her son or pay these student loans, there was no choice. Even today, 15 years later, she works hard to maintain a budget that she tracks to the penny.
“Every cent is accounted for. I don’t do anything for myself. It all goes to providing my son with a good home and what he needs to have a good life. There is no extra money to pay these loans. Having them disappear and this burden finally lifted will make such a big difference in our life.”
It shouldn’t have come to this. No student who attended Corinthian Colleges, or any other school known for widespread fraud – whether in Massachusetts or any other part of the country – should be forced to pay these loans and then jump through hoops to get them cancelled.
The Department has the authority to act more broadly than it has in Vara v Cardona. Going forward, it must act quickly to do what’s right in the face of widespread fraud, including:
- Granting the additional group borrower defense applications from other Attorneys Generals that have been submitted on behalf of defrauded students in their states.
- Cancelling in full the loans of ALL Corinthian borrowers, including in our class action lawsuit Calvillo v Cardona,
- Cancelling the loans of students who attended other for-profit colleges where there is evidence of widespread fraud, such as ITT, and others.
As Amanda Kulka told us 3 years ago, “Everest Institute robbed me of my education – I received nothing but a pile of debt from them. Cancelling these loans won’t reverse all the harm they’ve already caused, but it would at least be a fresh start.”
She will finally get her fresh start. Other borrowers deserve the same opportunity.