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article imageCorinthian, Heald technical colleges close abruptly

By Nathan Salant     Apr 27, 2015 in Odd News
Santa Ana - More than two dozen for-profit technical colleges — most in the San Francisco Bay Area — closed abruptly on Monday, leaving thousands of students without classes or degrees but with thousands of dollars of debt.
Corinthian Colleges Inc. of Santa Ana, Calif., announced Sunday that it was permanently closing its 28 campuses — including 150-year-old Heald College in San Francisco — the following day.
Representatives are expected to meet with the schools’ 16,000 students this week to help them make transition plans, according to the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper.
The announcement came as surprise to Heald students and faculty, the newspaper said, until staff members were notified by email on Sunday.
Corinthian campuses in San Francisco, Concord, Hayward and San Jose were closed Monday.
Corinthian also owns for-profit technical colleges Everest and WyoTech, known for iate-night television commercials, which also shut down Monday.
At Heald College’s San Francisco campus, there was no sign Sunday that classes were not resuming the next day as usual, the newspaper said.
A sign at the entrance still directed students, staff and visitors to sign-in and the school’s Facebook page still advised students to remember that Sunday was the last day to change their schedules for the current semester.
But Corinthian had been under pressure from federal regulators for several years after an investigation by the U.S. Department of Education found the company had exaggerated job placement numbers for Heald graduates, the newspaper said.
Corinthian was fined $30 million this month and barred from accepting new students, although the company disputed those findings.
Corinthian also faced numerous lawsuits, including one filed in 2013 by California Attorney General Kamala Harris claiming securities fraud and predatory lending, and another filed by the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau over the school’s lending practices, the newspaper said.
The company had already started selling off many of its schools, including 56 Everest and WyoTech campuses, but further efforts to sell more campuses were blocked by federal and state regulators, Corinthian said Sunday in a written statement.
“We believe that we have attempted to do everything within our power to provide a quality education and an opportunity for a better future for our students,” Corinthian CEO Jack Massimino said in a written statement published on the schools' websites.
“Unfortunately, the current regulatory environment would not allow us to complete a transaction with several interested parties that would have allowed for a seamless transition for our students,” Massimino said.
Corinthian reported $1.6 billion in revenue in 2014, the newspaper said.
Federal education officials said they would contact students to offer assistance, possibly including forgiving student loans.
“Department staff will immediately begin outreach to Corinthian students to review all their options, which may include loan discharges for students whose school closed,” U.S. Department of Education Undersecretary Ted Mitchell said.
“What these students have experienced is unacceptable, and we look forward to working with Congress in an effort to improve accountability and transparency in the career college industry," he said.
Closed campuses include 12 Heald colleges in California, Hawaii and Oregon; and 13 Everest and WyoTech colleges in California; Everest College Phoenix and Everest Online Tempe in Arizona, and the Everest Institute in Rochester, NY.
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