Corinthian Collective Sends Letter to Education Secretary John King

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Dear Secretary King,

We are former Corinthian students and members of the Debt Collective who were defrauded by Corinthian College. We are writing to tell you that your attempts to pretend we do not exist will not work. We will not allow you to issue press releases announcing plans to cancel our debts while doing nothing. You seem to think we’ll go away. You’re wrong.

Last year, on June 8th, your predecessor announced a process to cancel debts of former Corinthian students with these words: “Where students have been harmed by fraudulent practices, I am fully committed to making sure students receive every penny of relief they are entitled to under law. We will make this process as easy as possible for them, including b by considering claims in groups wherever possible, and hold institutions accountable.”

After this announcement, your own Department made findings that Corinthian students were systematically defrauded and were entitled to relief under law. Then it proceeded to prevent as
many students as possible from getting relief. Nearly 1.5 years later, only 4,000 of us, out of approximately 350,000 in total, have received debt discharges, a mere 1%. Meanwhile, 80,000 of us
are facing coercive collection, twenty times more than the number that have received relief.

What does coercive collection mean? It means we are being harassed on a daily basis by debt collectors. It means our wages are being garnished. It means our federal taxes are being offset. It
means our EITC, a benefit explicitly intended to keep families out of poverty, has been seized by the same government whose job it was to protect us from predators like Corinthian.

Your process for canceling our loans is a failure on its own terms. You have not “considered group claims wherever possible.” In fact, many of us–approximately 19,000 so far–have submitted claims according to your individualized process and have been ignored.

Perhaps you are under the impression that because we are overwhelmingly low income, disproportionately black and brown, and majority women, that we will quietly accept another slap
to the face. But we will not rest until you do what you should have done years ago and cancel all of our debts. Even those few who have received discharges will continue to fight in solidarity with those of us who have not.

Our movement is growing. We will work with our fellow for-profit college students across the country to continue to make public the disgraceful behavior of you and your agency. We will do
everything we can to let the world know that you are a liar who cares more about saving face with lobbyists than doing justice to victims. We invite you to prove us wrong.

Sincerely,
The Corinthian Collective

Statements from Select Signers

Dawn Thompson: Your job was to protect students from fraud. You failed!! For the life of me, I don't understand why you are insisting that Corinthian victims must prove that we were defrauded. You have more than enough proof to discharge these fraudulent loans. I'd also like to know how a school that was investigated for fraud since 1998 can just turn on the "fraud spigot" in 2010! You have proof. Now free us from this debt incarceration! We are victims of fraud, and we want our lives back.

Mandy Arvay: Why do we need to prove fraud over and over when the school has been found in violation?

Jessi Marie Valencia: I had to send proof of who I am for the 7th time already. I have filled out the forms numerous times and still may have to reapply again. I sent everything, including my social security card, state ID, proof of schooling with Everest, my diploma, address, marriage certificate, my divorce papers. What else do I have to do? This process should be easier for everyone! This process should include everyone who attended, not just those who attended during certain years. Fraud was always happening. Sorry, but I’m pissed at having to resend in all my info again. Did they just lose it or something? Get your shit together!

Carla Heavilon: I would like to know why Everest College Online Phoenix was not on the list of schools whose students are eligible for relief. I assumed the Dept. of Education was overseeing how student loan money was spent. The DOE failed and I should not have to pay for a degree that is useless!

Boferitas Avital: I am totally losing faith in our education system. Prove to me that, as a leader, you can make things right. How can you allow these schools to even operate?

Nathan Hornes: We can't use these degrees so why are we being held responsible for the bill? For years we have suffered at the hands of our negligent government. No more will we sit on the sidelines waiting for you to get it right! We demand a full discharge of all Corinthian debt as well as any other for-profit colleges that you know have scammed students!

Lucie Kamuda McHan: Stop playing golf and do something good before leaving office!!

Dawn Johnson: I am very disappointed that I had to fill out the forms numerous times and still heard nothing. Also I was charged room and board when I was only an online student. Very disappointing.

Jenniy French: Corinthian did not suddenly start their fraudulent practices in an arbitrary year decided upon by the government. Corinthian committed fraud all along, and it did so with the DOE’s help. Expecting students to pay these loans is asking us to pay for dirt we were sold. Our degrees are worth less than a pile of dirt. I graduated in 2009 and have yet to work in my field despite countless applications. I never get past the callback stage–no one takes my degree seriously. The only thing the government should even consider at this point is discharging loans for all Corinthian students and closing all for-profit schools.

Brian Pearl: I have both a B.S. and M.B.A. from Everest and have yet to work in my field. Right now I have a part-time job that pays nowhere near what is necessary to pay off the loans. School officials made it sound like life would be great after receiving my degree. I feel I am no better off now than before I went to school. They were preying on people's hopes and dreams.

LaTisha Bartee: A lot of Corinthian tactics were completed verbally, so it is very difficult to come up with a paper trail from ten years ago that proves anything. However, the fact that I completed an Associate’s degree program and that they made promises they could not keep is very real. Now, ten years later, I am not only paying way too much for a worthless degree, but I have had to take three more years of my life to complete a degree that I thought I already had. Corinthian is taking more from students than money, and all of us deserve to be reimbursed regardless of how and when we were defrauded.

Arika Elizabeth: I "graduated" in 2006, haven't been able to find work in the field in which I studied and I have even been turned down for unrelated jobs simply for having that particular school on my resume. I have $15,000 plus in student loan debt for an "education" I can't use. That's one expensive piece of paper. I've wanted to go back to school to gain a more useful education, but these debts prevent me from obtaining any financial aid. Please help.

L’nae Foster: I sent my paperwork in months ago and haven't heard anything. I've been trying to place my loans in forbearance and also sent those forms off again last month. I'm never able to get on the phone and talk to a rep without being hung up on after two hours.

Traci Martin: You have proven that Corinthian Colleges was fraudulent. You said that you were going to cancel the debt of the students that were victimized. But all you did was provide relief to a mere drop in the bucket compared to all those who were and still are affected. The majority of us are still here over a year later, still twiddling our thumbs after submitting all the paperwork you requested, and then some, like the document to fast track the process. We're still here with the weight of this scam debt on our shoulders. We'd like to move on and get a quality education. We’d like to continue with our lives and put this all behind us. Why are you dragging your feet? Why are you still punishing us? Wouldn't you agree (based on your findings) that Corinthian did that enough already? We begged for a class-wide discharge, but you said you wanted to individualize the process. Doesn't seem like that's being very productive. You’re wasting taxpayer money by taking too much time to do right by us. Are you ready to put this all behind you? Because we are. But we won't stop fighting until we see relief for all.

Makenzie Vasquez: Where is my second chance?

Valerie Hansen: The fact is that I have a WHOLE Masters degree, with a 4.0 GPA, and I can't even get a job ANYWHERE!

Chelsea Lynch: I have over $50,000 in loans from Corinthian colleges. That's for an Associate's Degree! I have only been able to get a seasonal part-time job at an amusement park. I can't afford to pay my loans. My debt affects my husband's job in the military as my debt is also his debt. We aren't able to purchase a house, upgrade a vehicle, etc. It's a never ending hole that I can't get out of. I'm not able to go back to school because I'll have to start over and I have no financial aid available to me. It was all used by Corinthian. I am now stuck, not able to do anything with my useless degree.

Rob Tanner: The government already proved Everest was committing fraud. Somehow Secretary King thinks Everest had a fraud switch. He says they turned the fraud off and on during certain years. I’d like to know: why does a two-year Associate’s degree cost $50,000? The DOE already knows Corinthian committed fraud. Why are you still making us prove it?

Crystal Chantaye Yancey: I don't feel that it’s fair that those of us who went to the school prior to its closing should have to pay. We should be cleared as well.

Sunday Matthis: I graduated in 2008, but my degree is considered useless. I was lied to just as those who attended before and after me. I am constantly harassed by collectors. I cannot afford theoutrageous monthly payments they want for my $47,000 plus in loans for an Associate’s degree. I really wanted to continue my education, but with this debt and no relief there is no way I can. Any former Corinthian student with outstanding debt should have their balances wiped clean.

Carrie Todd Downing: This is such a nightmare. My financial life is ruined by this, and I’m getting too old and have developed cancer. I'll never get the chance to go to a credible school to get a college degree! So here I am, in so much debt with nothing to show for it. Thank you for ruining mine & ALL these students’ lives with your lies, DOE and Corinthian!

Alicia Stevens: When are you going to decide to also forgive FFEL loans? Many of us who attended Corinthian before 2010 also were defrauded.

Grace Ellen Troy: If relief is granted because of a school's closing or because of unethical practices, relief shouldn't be so difficult to obtain. This debt continues to hurt the people burdened by it, while those in a better financial position take their time doing their job.

Naomi Diaz Price: Not only should we get Federal loan relief, those of us who paid off Genesis loans should be refunded in full with interest. Genesis was Corinthian’s affiliate company, a highpriced loan shark getting more money than they were entitled to!!!

DeAnda Williams: WHY are we having to pay for fraudulent loans from this school?

David Sanders: Colleges violations have been proven over and over by multiple investigations. To make every student re-prove their injuries is wrong. Give all Corinthian students blanket loan forgiveness.

Kelly Stevens: Most of us didn't have parents behind us to help pay or even guide us through the financial challenges of furthering our scholastic growth. These "degrees" we thought would help us have only made it more of a nightmare.

Jesse Roesser: I'm tired of waiting, tired of putting my financial life on hold while the wheels of American Bureaucracy at its finest stand idle. Classic proof of the Government at work...or on break.

Deborah Perry: Dismiss our student loans from Corinthian. It is past time to honor your words and help the students from this sham of a school. Our degrees are worthless. Our loans should be dismissed immediately.

Noel Schreiber: I attended college in hopes of bettering my future for myself and my family. With the degree I received from Everest that cost me $60,000, I can do nothing. I cannot even transfer my credits to an accredited school. It was a waste of time and money. I don’t think we should be responsible for something that was of no benefit to us! I cannot even get a home due to my debt-toincome ratio! It is absurd and unreasonable for us to be responsible for the loans that we received. Those of us who used grants from the government should receive our money back also!!!!

Natalie C. I have been waiting for a response from the DOE for over a year. I don’t understand what the hold up is. Everest didn’t start defrauding students in 2010. They were doing this long before. I was enrolled from 2008-2010, and my program and school are both on the list for discharge but I wasn’t enrolled at the right time. Please take a look at this and understand we want a better life. We aren’t asking for an easy way out. This is far from easy to deal with. We want to continue and move forward. Stop holding us back.

Sondra Guzman Wilson: The degree I earned is useless! It was only a $50,000.00 piece of paper! I am a single mother of 3 that needs this gone off my credit ASAP!

Wendy Riniger: Thousands of dollars gone and no one seems to care. You forgot about the people who live paycheck to paycheck. While those scammers live off the millions, we file for forgiveness but have heard no reply back. I sent everything you asked for and am getting nowhere.

Scott Caley: Lies is all I ever got from Everest.

Erlene Hawkins: All the debts under our names should be canceled.

Joseph Robert Civita: I was suckered into a $20k, 2-year degree program just to get certified as a Pharmacy Technician. Everest not only hurt individual lives. The executives don't care about the future of the country, so long as they made their profit. Everest is a true disgrace to the academic community. I guess suckers are born every day, huh? The President and those in the admissions department had no shame, and they always had those phony businessman smiles which make me physically ill to even think about. Please help those of us who were ripped off. We want our futures back so we can reinvest in education at more reputable establishments in programs that are useful. Secretary King, we won't go away until this is resolved. Not all of us who were defrauded are powerless either. By you defending Everest and ignoring those students affected, you have proven yourself a man that preys on the weak. I hope you're proud of yourself when you look in the mirror everyday.

Jessica King: We have and will continue to fight until every student that has been harmed by a forprofit college receives a discharge. Students that have FFEL loans have been blatantly ignored. We NEVER got a choice about the loan type attached to our name. We have been punished for their crimes. Please step up and actually do your job. Fight for the students, not just the rich white people that are at traditional four-year universities. Fight for all students who try to better themselves through education.

Paul E. Hicks: Why do we have to prove something so obvious? Based on your own investigation, you fined Corinthian College 30 million dollars, not to mention the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau got a default judgment ordered by the United States District Court of the Northern District of Illinois. Then, Kamala Harris, the Atty. Gen. of California, got a final judgment (case number CGC-13- 53 4793) from the Supreme Court of the state of California. So, again, why do we have to prove something that's crystal clear? You had enough information to fine them. Now discharge these fraudulent loans.

Kimberly Fuller: I think it is unfair that Corinthian used funds without my knowledge. I begged and emailed them to help me find a better job. To this day, I am unable to use the degree they provided. They took out Genesis loans in my name without my knowledge. I felt like they were being unfair to many of us, even unethical. Why am I and others responsible for paying loans that
are unethical? Why are we being taken advantage of?

Francis Hutchinson: Stop ignoring us!

Luz Gonzales: Dear Mr. King, Do you go to bed in peace? I have not been able since Corinthian defrauded us.

Jessica M. Earl: It is a battle every day to know that I have so much debt due to a degree I can't even use. I get turned down for credit cards, mortgages, and jobs because there is so much debt sitting on my credit report. I cannot pursue my Bachelor's degree because I do not have the money to continue. I feel completely hopeless because I am drowning in all of this debt. I have applied for multiple Paralegal, Legal Secretary, and Legal Receptionist jobs in my area since 2008. I have never been invited to interview for one of those positions, and I believe it is because my degree from Corinthian College/Everest College repels employers. I am officially out of grant and student loan money because of Corinthian College/Everest College. I cannot enroll in another school. I have no money to finish my Bachelor's degree, let alone any other higher degree. My credits will not transfer to another school, so I will have to start all over again from scratch. No one will accept my Associate's degree from Corinthian College/Everest College. I cannot pay back my student loans. I am in so much debt because of Corinthian College/Everest College. I'm afraid I may never be able to pay it off in my lifetime. Every time I put my loans in forbearance, I pile on the interest.

Marina Mitchell: I graduated in 2005 with over $12,500.00 in debt. My taxes are being garnished because my FFEL loans aren't qualified.

Grace O'Neill: I have been paying off for years a debt I acquired from a school that didn't even give me a degree. In order to complete my degree, I was told I had to pay twice my tuition, so I never did. I'm paying, in more ways than one, for a school that has prevented me from even getting a degree elsewhere because I'm not eligible to collect my financial aid due to this debt. Why is the education system in this country such a joke?

James Black: Mr. King, The problem you have in front you is the result of the inaction, greed and complacency of your department and of those who were in the job before you. When the end comes, and it will come, you can either be known as the leader who terminated these fraudulent and deceptive companies and relieve the debts of thousands of citizens who were lied to and manipulated, or, you can be the one who lacks the courage to stand up to moneyed interests. Do the right thing and be remembered in history for bravery and humility. It'd be a shame, after all is said and done, to see you as an assistant lunch line monitor...with a useless degree.

Chris Chaffee: We were taken advantage of. Do what's right!

Nathaniel Raffety: I never got a chance to finish my Associate’s degree in Criminal Justice while attending Everest in Orange Park, FL. The school is a joke. The staff didn't care about the students. None of the so-called professors knew what the hell they were doing. I now have about $30,000.00 in debt for my supposed degree that I NEVER got to finish. DO SOMETHING ABOUT THE COLLEGE SCREWING their students and let my wife and I start fresh with a career we can get into: wipe out our debt!

Marina Raffety: Everest University online is nothing but a joke. They promised me that I could get hands-on experience in my field, and I NEVER did. Career service people don't keep in contact with graduates or help them get a job like they tell students they will. I now have a worthless degree that I cannot use to get a job in my field. I'm stuck with $80,000.00 in debt for the worthless degree. DO SOMETHING ABOUT THE COLLEGE SCREWING people out of an education.

Dawn Akins: Give us the relief we deserve. We were victims, and this is destroying our lives. Margarita Marcano: I can't believe I went to a school and have to pay for a program even though I have never worked in my field. I was told I would be helped to find work. I moved back to Florida from Chicago and go to my local campus and they look at me as if I were a monkey doing a math problem. Come on be fair!! It was false advertising and a bait and switch. This is disgusting that we have to go through this. Shame on you!! This is a rip off of the highest kind. You're holding us hostage for something that we thought was good and helpful. Now it's just a burden and we have to pay for services not rendered. Disgusting!

Veronica Lomax: It’s pure bullshit, really.