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Kamala Harris sued Corinthian Colleges and cut student loans

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Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at the United States Capitol on January 6, 2022. She sued Corinthian Colleges when she was California’s Attorney General in 2013.

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Vice President Kamala Harris’ decade-long “journey for justice” on behalf of Corinthian Colleges students will soon come to an end as the Biden administration promises to relieve borrowers of their remaining federal student loans.

Harris investigated and prosecuted the for-profit college conglomerate when she was California’s attorney general. His 2013 lawsuit forced Corinthian to close its schools and launched investigations that led the United States Department of Education to write off about $5.8 billion in loan debt for 560,000 borrowers.

Harris, California’s attorney general from 2011 to 2017, investigated Corinthian over its recruitment methods. She sued the company and its affiliates — such as Heald College, Everest College and WyoTech — for “predatory” advertising practices that lured vulnerable students with inaccurate information about placement rates, programs and transfer credits.

“Our investigation revealed that some of Corinthian’s degrees were so worthless that they did not help a single student find employment,” Harris said during an appearance at the Department of Education on Thursday, where she recounted the legal battle.

Reviewing Corinthian’s internal documents as California’s attorney general, his office found that Corinthian was targeting “veterans, single mothers and single fathers, people living below the poverty line, people who have lost their jobs during the Great Recession, people who believed in the power of education to transform their lives, people who simply wanted to take control of their own future,” she said.

“They targeted people who they thought would not fight back. They targeted people they thought no one would be there to fight for. And they were wrong.”

A California judge agreed with Harris in 2016, ruling that the company had inflated its placement record and falsely advertised students’ ability to transfer credit, among other things. The judge ruled that the then-defunct company had to pay more than $1 billion in restitution and penalties.

By then, Harris’s investigation and trial had prevented Corinthian from receiving federal funding and enrolling students. Corinthian had closed its remaining campuses in April 2015 and filed for bankruptcy the following month.

“Even though it was a win, and all of it happened, it still didn’t bring financial relief to students who had already been affected,” Harris said.

Harris and eight other attorneys general called on the federal government to forgive Corinthian student loan debt, leading the U.S. Department of Education to provide relief to some students who applied for it beginning in 2015. .

Now, seven years later, Harris said, “With leaders on this stage, the Department of Education will cancel all remaining federal student loans for former Corinthian students.”

The US Department of Education will notify eligible borrowers shortly. Former students have nothing to do, she said.

Harris took a moment to remind listeners of the pressure Corinthian students have been under since his society was founded in 1995.

“We are talking about highly responsible people, who have decided to save money to pay for an education in order to improve their lives and those of their families and contribute to their community,” she said.

“Think what kind of person does that,” Harris implored. “And then think about that person who gets what’s probably a monthly bill that says, ‘you owe money,’ and how that makes that person feel. And the pressure they’re under then because they are a responsible person who cares to contribute.

In closing, Harris thanked those who continued to fight for the relief of Corinthian students.

“Thanks to your hard work and dedication, we are where we are today. Knowing also that as a nation we still have a lot of work to do on these issues,” she said.

This story was originally published June 2, 2022 12:55 p.m.

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Gillian Brassil is the congressional reporter for McClatchy’s California Publications. She covers federal policies, people, and issues impacting the Golden State from Capitol Hill. She graduated from Stanford University.