SACRAMENTO- The Assembly is introducing legislation to provide relief for Corinthian College students facing serious educational and financial setbacks due to the for-profit college system shutting down earlier this week.
The legislation, which will be authored by Assemblymember Jose Medina, Chair of the Assembly Higher Education Committee, and Assemblymember Kevin McCarty, Chair of the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education, and coauthored by Speaker Toni G. Atkins and Assembly Republican Leader Kristin Olsen, will ensure students have access to educational opportunity, economic relief and legal aid.
"Corinthian Colleges' abrupt shutdown has left thousands of students stranded and in debt," said Speaker Atkins (D-San Diego). "The legislation we are advancing will ensure that students harmed by the closure of Corinthian and other high-risk, for-profit colleges will not be held responsible for the sharp practices and bad decisions of others."
"Assembly Republicans stand with California's hardworking students who are striving to pursue their education dreams," said Assemblymember Olsen (R-Modesto). "In addition to providing relief to these students, this legislation ensures that funds recovered from the legal action against Corinthian Colleges directly funds the student relief activities in this bill."
Assemblymember Medina (D-Riverside) added: "Corinthian has caused significant financial and educational harm to California students. This legislation ensures our community colleges can provide these students with a second chance to achieve their educational goals, as well as provide students access to federal loan discharge and state tuition recovery programs."
"I applaud Speaker Atkins' and Higher Education Chairman Medina's leadership to protect a population of California's students, who have unfairly lost access to higher education due to the improprieties of a for profit college that preys on our students," said Assemblymember McCarty (D-Sacramento). "Maintaining access to higher education is a priority for the Assembly and this measure will ensure access and affordability for these students."
The Assembly legislation will:
- Waive community college fees for all California students harmed by the Corinthian closure. The bill also provides funding for community college counselors to assist students in transferring to and enrolling in programs.
- Provide legal assistance to help students, including specialized legal assistance for veteran students, with the loan forgiveness process since only an estimated six percent of students eligible for a loan discharge claim it. This bill would provide a grant of $100 per student to legal aid services for students seeking loan discharge.
- Provide tuition recovery to Heald and California online students, including veteran students, through expanding California Student Tuition Recovery Fund (STRF) eligibility to all students attending a high-risk, for-profit institution. WyoTech and Everest students are already eligible.
- Restore the year(s) of Cal Grant eligibility for Heald students.
- Increase the statutory limit on STRF from $25 million to $50 million in order to ensure the STRF has sufficient funds to support all students when large, for-profit institutions close abruptly. Institutions would be required to begin paying into this fund immediately.
- Establish a Closed Schools Task Force within the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education to ensure that students are provided with accurate and consistent information from the agencies involved in the school closure process.
Existing programs are insufficient to support all California students harmed by the Corinthian Colleges closure and evidence has come to light that students are being providing inaccurate and inconsistent information regarding their rights and their options. Federal loan forgiveness is available to students who qualify, but only if they do not transfer any educational credits to another institution. A fact sheet is attached.
On April 26, 2015, Corinthian Colleges, Inc. announced that they had ceased operations at all Heald, Everest, and WyoTech campuses following oversight and enforcement actions by the California Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the California Student Aid Commission, the California Bureau of Private Postsecondary Education, the California Department of Veterans Affairs, and several other state attorneys general.
In a Department of Justice filing, claims against Corinthian Colleges include misrepresenting job placement rates to students and investors, advertising for programs it does not offer, unlawfully using military seals in advertising, and inserting unlawful clauses into enrollment agreements to bar any and all claims by students.
This legislation will be an urgency measure and requires a two-thirds vote. This is a bipartisan effort to provide aid to students harmed by Corinthian's closure. Coauthors of the legislation include: Assemblymembers Luis Alejo, Toni Atkins, Susan Bonilla, Cheryl Brown, Ian Calderon, Ed Chau, David Chiu, Kansen Chu, Ken Cooley, Matthew Dababneh, Susan Eggman, Jim Frazier, Mike Gipson, Patrick O'Donnell, Kristin Olsen, Bill Quirk, Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, Freddie Rodriguez, Miguel Santiago, and Tony Thurmond.
Website of Assembly Speaker Toni G. Atkins: http://asmdc.org/speaker
Website of Assembly Minority Leader Kristin Olsen: https://ad12.assemblygop.com/
Website of Assemblymember Jose Medina: http://asmdc.org/medina
Website of Assemblymember Kevin McCarty: http://asmdc.org/mccarty