Everest College Latest For-Profit School to be Accused of Predatory Lending

Four career college campuses in North Texas are likely to be closed or sold off in the coming months. And some of the students don’t even know it. Everest College enrolls more than 2,700 students at its four campuses in Dallas, Arlington and Fort Worth. It’s part of a for-profit chain run by Corinthian Colleges. The company has been under growing federal scrutiny for its student lending and recruiting practices. Now it faces bankruptcy. But several students at the Dallas campus said the college has said nothing to them about it. “They never told me that,” said Yessenia Romero, who is studying to be a medical assistant. Romero said she likes her instructor and her classes. She’s eager to earn her certificate and work in a doctor’s office. “What was all the effort I put in if they’re going to shut it down or something?” she asked. Officials at the Everest Dallas campus did not return calls or emails seeking comment.

Krissy Humenesky, a spokeswoman for Corinthian Colleges in California, said the company is working out an agreement about its future with the U.S. Department of Education. “Until that gets signed, there’s not really any news or updates,” Humenesky said. “It’s just business as usual right now.” As for students like Romero? “We don’t have anything to tell them,” Humenesky said. “As soon as we do, we’ll definitely let them know.” Like most for-profit college chains, Corinthian gets most of its money from the federal government through students who receive federal grants and loans. But the publicly traded company has faced growing complaints. The attorneys general in California and Massachusetts sued Corinthian in the last year, alleging the company pushed students into expensive loans and touted misleading job placement rates. The company denies the accusations. Tuition and fees at Everest College are about $15,000 a year, according to the U.S. Department of Education. The Texas Workforce Commission received 25 complaints about Everest campuses in the past five years, a spokesman said Friday.

The agency substantiated four of them that concerned educational quality, misrepresentation and other issues. The U.S. Department of Education dealt a financial blow to Corinthian last month. It said the company would have to wait 21 days to receive federal student aid dollars, instead of the usual one to three days. That delay threatens the company’s ability to pay its bills and keep operating. Corinthian made those disclosures in required corporate filings to investors. But such information does not appear on Everest College’s website. “Discover your potential with an Everest education,” the home page says, with an invitation to chat online or call a toll-free number to learn more. Claudia Garcia wants to be a medical administrative assistant. She started taking classes at the Everest Dallas campus last month. When she’s not in school, she works as a team leader for Whataburger. Garcia said she’s been happy with Everest and its small class sizes, with 10 or 15 students each. But she said the college should tell students it might shut down. Garcia said she hopes that doesn’t happen. “I’d be upset because I’m trying to get in a different field than fast food,” she said. “I’d have to reapply and start over again at a different school.” This week, another for-profit college chain, ITT Educational Services, said the Department of Education may limit its access to federal funds. A federal consumer protection agency has accused the company of predatory lending practices.

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