AJC Watchdog: First Alert

Keeping watch on those who hold the public trust and money.

Will Norcross college survive? New report raises concerns about former Corinthian campus


UPDATED: A college campus in Norcross and ones in Tampa and Houston are all that's left of what once was the nation's largest for-profit college chain, Corinthian College. At its peak, Corinthian had more than 100 campuses, until it collapsed into bankruptcy as state and federal investigators were circling for the kill.

Corinthian was accused of creating fake jobs to boost the employment rate of its graduates, using high-pressure and deceptive tactics to enroll students and misrepresenting that its credits could be transferred to other accredited schools, the AJC reported in 2014.

Now, a new report is casting doubt on the future of the remaining three campuses.

The report, by an attorney appointed to monitor the non-profit operation, Zenith, that took over Corinthian's Everest and Wyotech schools, cites recent developments which he finds troubling.

Despite purported investments of billions of dollars and "radical initiatives," it seems doubtful the remaining three campuses, now called Altierus, will survive, the report says.

And he says Zenith may be using some of the same tactics that finally brought Corinthian down. One concern, that ads imply jobs will be waiting for students who graduate.

Former Corinthian students, saddled with debt and unable to find jobs in their career fields, still are left struggling. Under an Obama administration program, students defrauded by Corinthian were to get their federal student loans forgiven. But in December, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced that policy was being scrapped and some students may not get full relief. Read more here: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-student-loans-corinthian-20171220-story.html

Update: In response to this post, Zenith released a statement late Thursday, contending that the monitor's report "contains several apparent misunderstandings and, in some cases, misstatements of Zenith's business practices and regulatory requirements."

"For example, the monitor argues that Zenith’s homepage fails to comply with a Department of Education regulatory guidance, the enforcement of which has been delayed and thus does not apply to Zenith. Additionally, the monitor’s report mischaracterizes the nature of a teach out, which allows students to complete their entire educational program, not just specific courses, before a campus is closed," the statement says in part.

Zenith goes on to say this: "Since acquiring 56 campuses facing certain and immediate closure in 2015, we made significant investments in student success, including contributing $500 million in cash that resulted in savings for American taxpayers of an estimated $435 million in potential closed school losses, and facilitated the discharge of more than $480 million of private student debt, sparing students the burden of repayment. In total, we graduated more than 15,000 students in the programs we continued after we acquired the schools and achieved a 73.2 percent success rate in placing those students in jobs in their sector."

 


Reader Comments ...

About the Author

Lois Norder is Senior Editor for Investigations in the newsroom at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.