Healey: Forgive student debt


AGs join fight vs. Corinthian

Originally posted on The Boston Herald's website

By Jordan Graham

Attorney General Maura Healey, along with attorneys general across the country, is asking the federal Department of Education to forgive the student loan debt of students who they say fell victim to unfair and misleading practices by for-profit schools.

“These are situations where students are simply seeking a way to better themselves, and they get lured in by these false promises, and then they’re on the hook for $15,000, $20,000,” Healey said. “I’ve heard from so many people who were victimized by these schools.”

Healey and the top law enforcement officials for eight other states sent a letter to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan yesterday, saying students at schools operated by Corinthian Colleges, including Everest Institute in Chelsea and Brighton, were taken advantage of and asking that their federal loan debt be wiped out.

“At the end of the day, these students were nothing but a pass-through for these schools to get their hands on federal dollars,” Healey said. “The welfare and education of students was not their priority; it never has been.”

Corinthian reached an agreement last year with the DOE to sell or shut down its campuses. The AG’s office sued Corinthian a year ago, claiming students were misled about the schools’ track record, and were pressured into accepting loans. The AG has also targeted three other for-profit schools, and Healey said “there are a number of schools under investigation.”

A spokesman for Corinthian said the allegations against it focus on isolated incidents.

“Corinthian continues to dispute the allegations made against it and continues to believe its schools provide significant value for its students,” the spokesman said.

The letter also asks the Department of Education to create a framework for students of other schools that have been deemed predatory.

“Through their predatory practices, these unscrupulous for-profit schools have co-opted a public loan program intended to increase access to higher education and left hundreds of thousands of students in financial ruin,” the letter says. “Aggressive recruitment is the only thing these for-profit schools do well.”

The letter says for-profit schools are responsible for nearly half of all student loan defaults, despite only enrolling 13 percent of all students who borrow.

In December, a group of U.S. senators, including Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, sent a similar letter to the DOE.

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