Durbin: When Will Congress Address Outrageous Conduct By For-Profit Colleges?

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – During a speech on the Senate Floor today, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) called on Corinthian Colleges Inc., which operates in Illinois under the name “Everest College”, to immediately stop enrolling students and urged stronger federal oversight of the for-profit college industry. On Friday, the Department of Education reported that Corinthian failed to provide required data about its practices, including falsifying job placement data used in marketing claims to prospective students and allegations of altered grades and attendance. Corinthian is under investigation by 20 states, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the Securities and Exchange Commission. It has six campuses in Burr Ridge, Bedford Park, Melrose Park, Merrionette Park, North Aurora, and Skokie, enrolling an estimated 3,300 Illinois students.

“Turns out last year Everest Colleges were falsifying the information they provided to the federal government. In some cases, they even paid employers to hire Everest graduates for a short period of time so they could report back to the federal government that their graduates found jobs,” Durbin said.


“I’d like to tell you about a story that involves Everest Colleges from an article written by David Halperin entitled, ‘For-Profit Colleges Enrolls, Exploits Student Who Reads at Third-Grade Level’. What it boils down to is a 37-year-old man with a developmental disability – he’s described as shaking, speaking haltingly, and reading at an elementary school level – was allowed to enroll in Everest’s criminal justice program.  According to a librarian who worked with him – and subsequently resigned over his treatment by the school – the man was ‘rarely able to comprehend sentences,’ was ‘unable to sound out words,’ and ‘does not have the ability to read the documents he was asked to sign.’ That apparently didn’t matter to Everest. As long as this man was eligible to take out federal loans, Everest was going to get paid. To the school, he was an ATM that spit out federal dollars.”


Video of Durbin’s remarks is available here.


Audio of Durbin’s remarks is available here.

In April, Durbin introduced the Proprietary Education Oversight Coordination Improvement Act with Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA). The bill would improve coordination between federal agencies that oversee the for-profit college industry. Through the establishment of an interagency oversight committee, the bill aims to improve aims to improve enforcement of federal laws and regulations while increasing accountability of for-profit colleges to students and taxpayers. U.S. Representative Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, has introduced the bill in the House of Representatives as well.

In response to a December 16 investigation in the Huffington Post, Durbin sent a letter to the Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, asking him to investigate Corinthian Colleges, Inc. and their manipulative marketing practices which included a subsidy program for employers to hire graduates temporarily and outright lying by the company through their advertisement of numbers substantially higher than actual job placement rates.  After that letter, the Department requested information from Corinthian related to their job placement rates, information they have yet to provide, and denied the company’s new program applications.  Durbin also called on the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges – Corinthian Colleges, Inc.’s accreditor – to take action.