WASHINGTON POST: My for-profit university folded. I refuse to pay back my student loans

Career College Central Summary:

  • In 2013, I entered college to become a licensed practical nurse. I chose the Grand Rapids, Mich., campus of Everest, owned by Corinthian Colleges, because it promised me a high-quality program that I could finish quickly. I was eager to get my nursing degree so I could pursue my dream of working in a health clinic in Africa.
  • Within a few months, I was deeply in debt for an education that fell far below my expectations. Recently, I joined with other former Everest students in refusing to repay our federal and private student loans. We’re calling ourselves the Corinthian 15.
  • The list of Everest’s alleged false promises and defrauded students is long. At its height, Corinthian Colleges operated more than 100 Everest, Heald and WyoTech schools throughout the United States and Canada. Most of those schools have since been closed or purchased by another company. In the past eight years, Corinthian has been the target of some 200 lawsuits filed by state and federal agencies. Last month, the company received a letter that it would be delisted from the Nasdaq Stock Market for failing to file financial reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission. In many news stories about the company, Corinthian hasn’t commented about the pending lawsuits.
  • In October 2013, California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris filed a lawsuit against Corinthian alleging that the company violated consumer protection and securities laws. About a year later, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) filed a lawsuit accusing Corinthian of predatory lending, including strong-arming students into enrolling and engaging in illegal debt collection tactics such as withholding diplomas and books.
  • I experienced these kinds of tactics first-hand. During the enrollment process, I explained to an Everest financial adviser that I could not afford to make loan payments while attending school. I was reassured that I would not be required to repay my loans until after I graduated. He quickly signed me up for federal and privately held loans. By graduation, I owed more than $24,000.
  • Two months into my program, I received my first loan bill. That’s when I learned that I was expected to pay the interest on my private loan debt while in school. Soon I was selling my plasma twice a week to buy groceries and make my interest-only payments.
  • The program also lacked the quality I had been promised by Everest’s admissions staff. Classes consisted mostly of teachers reading aloud from books. After I earned my degree, I did not have the knowledge I needed to pass the state licensing exam. I eventually passed it by spending hours researching the test questions online and watching YouTube videos.
  • According to the Higher Education Act of 1965, students enrolled in schools that are closing are to be given the option to withdraw and have their loans discharged. I wrote a letter to the university president, demanding that I be allowed to take advantage of this “closed school discharge.” My request was denied because I was too far into the 12-month program: I was almost done with the program at this point, and I would still be expected to repay my loans.

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