July 5, 2014 in Business

Corinthian Colleges, for-profit education company, to sell most campuses

Kimberly Hefling Associated Press
 
Operates in Washington

Corinthian Colleges has several campuses in Western Washington, but the greatest concentrations of Corinthian students are in California, Florida and Texas.

WASHINGTON – The troubled for-profit education company Corinthian Colleges Inc. and the Education Department reached an agreement late Thursday that has 85 of the company’s 100-plus campuses going up for sale, and 12 others closing.

Corinthian owns Everest College, Heald College and WyoTech schools. It serves about 72,000 students in 26 states and Ontario, Canada, and receives about $1.4 billion in federal financial student aid annually. There are several Everest College campuses in Western Washington, but the greatest concentrations of Corinthian students are in California, Florida and Texas. Students generally receive career training in areas such as auto mechanics or health care.

Jack Massimino, Corinthian’s chairman and chief officer, praised the agreement in a statement.

“This agreement allows our students to continue their education and helps minimize the personal and financial issues that affect our 12,000 employees and their families,” Massimino said. “It also provides a blueprint for allowing most of our campuses to continue serving their students and communities under new ownership.”

The company declined to identify the schools that will close.

Ted Mitchell, the undersecretary at the Education Department, said the agreement will “protect students’ futures and fulfill the department’s responsibilities to taxpayers moving forward.”

“Ensuring that Corinthian students are served well remains our first and most important priority, and we will continue to work with Corinthian officials and the independent monitor on behalf of the best interests of students and taxpayers,” Mitchell said.

The department put Santa Ana, California-based Corinthian on heightened financial monitoring last month with a 21-day waiting period for federal funds. That came after Corinthian failed to provide adequate paperwork and comply with the department’s requests to address concerns about the company’s practices. The department said the concerns included allegations of falsifying job placement data used in marketing claims to prospective students, and allegations of altered grades and attendance.

The sides earlier reached an initial agreement that allowed the company to obtain an immediate $16 million in federal student aid money to keep operating. But a more detailed plan was to be worked out that spelled out the future of the campuses.

Under the terms of the agreement, the campuses will inform students of their options and each campus will have a plan that allows students to complete their program, if they choose to do so. The company has agreed to only use federal aid money for daily operations and will hire an independent monitor. Under a number of circumstances, students will be eligible for a refund paid for using a reserve fund of at least $30 million from Corinthian’s funds.

The company faces multiple state and federal investigations. California Attorney General Kamala Harris has sought a court order that would force the company to stop advertising and to start telling prospective students that it is looking to sell or shut down its colleges.

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