By Kamala Harris
Corinthian Colleges was one of the largest for-profit college conglomerates in the country until I took action as Attorney General of California. We prosecuted Corinthian for luring in students with false promises about job prospects and for leaving them saddled with debt.
Corinthian Colleges targeted low-income, vulnerable students with misleading ads. In fact, Corinthian employees were specifically told to recruit potential students who were “isolated” or had “low self-esteem.”
My office conducted an extensive investigation, which found that Corinthian Colleges had misrepresented job placement rates, advertised academic programs that didn’t exist, deceived investors, fraudulently used military seals in their advertising materials, and charged five times on average as much as community colleges would for an associate’s degree.
One woman, a 20-year-old single mother who suffered from learning disabilities, was tricked into signing a contract she did not understand. Corinthian provided no specialized instruction to her, and she ultimately ended up thousands of dollars in debt, with damaged credit, and ultimately found it difficult to access housing as a result of Corinthian’s fraud.
There were many stories just like this woman’s, which is why we took action to hold Corinthian Colleges accountable. But I know there are millions of people — including veterans and single parents — who are being targeted by other corporations in the exact same way across this country, which is why I’m asking you directly:
Rather than sit on the sidelines and allow Corinthian to get away with this, we filed a lawsuit and refused to settle. Our office won a $1.1 billion judgment that provided at least some measure of justice to the victims.
Since exposing the fraud of Corinthian Colleges, we have worked to push for every form of debt relief and assistance for the victims and have fought to strengthen students’ rights, improve oversight, and protect our veterans from being scammed.
But we can’t stop there. There are many more for-profit schools taking advantage of students and we need action at the federal level. This week, I asked the Department of Education to create new rules to prevent students from being defrauded by for-profit colleges and to finally introduce a fair and efficient process to enable students who have been harmed by these companies to access student-loan debt relief.
If we come together to demand action from the federal government, we can protect millions of students across the country from the same kind of predatory tactics used by Corinthian Colleges.