Durbin Calls on Illinois-based For-profit College to Refund Tuition if Programs Lose Accreditation

As Career Education Corporation students face prospect of worthless degrees and burdensome debt, former CEO given multi-million dollar severance package

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – After learning that the former CEO of Career Education Corporation (CEC) is set to receive a $5 million severance, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today called on the Illinois-based company to refund tuition to students if their program of study loses accreditation.  CEC, which owns and operates Le Cordon Bleu and the International Academy of Design and Technology in Chicago, risks losing accreditation after its national accreditor discovered that the company directly violated Department of Education regulations by knowingly inflating job placement rates. 


“I understand that [the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools] will be reviewing your accreditation status shortly,” wrote Durbin.  “Should [they] repeal the accreditation status of those programs, it would only be fair for CEC to refund tuition paid to the students and return federal aid used to the U.S. Department of Education.  Allowing students to go into serious debt to attend a program that is stripped of accreditation would be grossly unfair.”


Loss of accreditation would unfairly hurt students already enrolled in programs with CEC’s schools as it would effectively render their degree or certificate worthless.  CEC is scheduled to appear this month at a meeting of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools to defend current accreditations for its programs and make a case for why they should not be suspended. 


CEO of CEC Gary McCullough resigned on November 1, 2011, amid reports that the company inflated job placement rates for some of its programs.  The national accreditor of CEC’s schools, the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, requires that certain programs have a job placement rate of 65% of higher.  Only 13 of the company’s 49 Health Education and Art & Design schools met the 65% minimum placement rate minimum for the 2010-2011 reporting period.


CEC is an Illinois-based company with over 100,000 students nationwide.  Three of CEC's schools that have recently opened in the Chicago area – Sanford Brown College Hillside, Sanford Brown College Skokie and Sanford Brown College Tinley Park, all of which are reporting placement rates for the first time this year – are among the schools whose placement rates for 2010-2011 fell below the 65% minimum standard for the 2010-2011 reporting period. 


Durbin also sent letters to the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools and the Department of Education asking both to investigate CEC further.