For-Profit College is Closed After Fine for its Job Placement Claims

April 27, 2015
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by Priyanka Boghani Digital Reporter

Classroom desks at a for-profit trade school. (AP Photo/Brian Bohannon)

Around 16,000 students enrolled in classes through Corinthian Colleges woke up to no school on Monday after the for-profit chain announced this weekend that it had effectively ceased operations and “discontinued instruction” at its remaining 28 campuses.

The closings come less than two weeks after the Department of Education fined Corinthian almost $30 million for “misrepresentation of job placement rates to current and prospective students.”

In all, the department found 947 cases of “misstated placement rates” that “overstated the employment prospects” for graduates of Corinthian’s Heald College.

Over the course of the review, for example, the Education Department found that Heald paid temp agencies to hire its graduates in temporary positions on its own campuses and then counted them as “placed in field.” It also counted students as “placed” even when they held jobs outside their field of study, or if they had been employed in jobs before they graduated.

“Instead of providing clear and accurate information to help students choose which college to attend, Corinthian violated students’ and taxpayers’ trust,” said Under Secretary for Education Ted Mitchell in an April 14 statement announcing the fine. “Their substantial misrepresentations evidence a blatant disregard not just for professional standards, but for students’ futures.”

Corinthian once operated one of the largest for-profit college chains in the country, but reached an agreement with the Education Department last July to sell 85 campuses and close 12 others in the face of scrutiny over its job placement record. Sunday’s decision affects the campuses it still operated in California, Arizona, New York, Hawaii and Oregon.

The decision to cease operations followed years of questions over Corinthian’s promises to students.

In the 2010 investigation of the for-profit college industry, College, Inc., FRONTLINE spoke to three nursing students who had enrolled at Corinthian’s Everest College, paying almost $30,000 for a 12-month program. In the below excerpt from the film, the students said they were told they’d be making between $25 and $35 an hour, but all three struggled to find jobs despite graduating and getting licenses.

“I got my license in December of ’09, and I’ve been on countless interviews,” one of the students told FRONTLINE. “And they all ask if I’ve ever been in a hospital, and I would have to tell them we never set foot in a hospital, ever. We went to a museum of Scientology for our psychiatric rotation.”

Nora, one of the other nursing students, added, “Our pediatrics rotation, we went to a day care.”

The nursing students alleged that they weren’t given the training and practical experience they were promised by the college. Corinthian Colleges responded to FRONTLINE’s questions about training by letter in 2010, stating that its nursing program “provided thorough and appropriate training,” and that “students were accurately informed” of course requirements and faculty qualifications.

Corinthian said in a statement on Sunday that it was “working with other schools to provide continuing education opportunities” for students now left without instruction. The stranded students now have two options: transferring their credits to another institution, or applying to have their federal student loans discharged — in essence no longer having to pay their student loans, and if they are eligible, being refunded the money they have already paid — and starting over.

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