Corinthian Colleges details plan to sell 85 campuses, close 12 others

The for-profit company Corinthian Colleges detailed plans Monday to sell 85 of its career-education campuses nationwide and shutter a dozen others, including two outposts operating under the Everest brand in the Washington region.

Corinthian, based in Santa Ana., Calif., has struggled financially and faced scrutiny this year for what federal regulators call “faulty job-placement data” the company used in marketing claims to prospective students.

The company operates an Everest Institute campus in Silver Spring, which teaches aspiring medical assistants, and an Everest College campus in Vienna, which teaches nursing and other subjects in medical and dental fields.

Both campuses were omitted from a list Corinthian made public Monday of operations it intends to sell. That means the company plans to close those locations after it finishes teaching current students. In fall 2012, about 480 Everest students were in Silver Spring and about 335 in Vienna.

About 3,400 students are enrolled nationally in the campuses that Corinthian intends to close. Nearly 68,000 are enrolled in campuses it plans to sell within about six months. Those for sale in Virginia are three Everest locations in Woodbridge, Newport News and Chesapeake.

The company announced Thursday that it had reached accord with the Education Department on an “orderly transition” for selling or closing its schools. The department essentially forced the action after it placed tight limits on the flow of student-aid revenue to Corinthian schools in mid-June.

“This agreement allows our students to continue their education and helps minimize the personal and financial issues that affect our 12,000 employees and their families,” Jack Massimino, chairman and chief executive of Corinthian, said in a statement. “It also provides a blueprint for allowing most of our campuses to continue serving their students and communities under new ownership.”

Corinthian, founded in 1995, owns schools under the brand names of Everest, Wyotech and Heald. It is among the largest for-profit higher education companies in the country and underwent major growth in the past decade, when the industry was expanding. In the past few years, though, enrollment has fallen at many for-profit colleges.

Federal data show that in 2012-13, more than 100,000 recipients of federal Pell grants were at Everest schools, more than 20,000 at Heald College campuses and more than 9,000 at Wyotech schools. Those grants totaled more than $400 million. In addition, many students at Corinthian colleges take out federal loans.

Federal officials say Corinthian receives about $1.4 billion a year in federal financial aid.

An Obama administration official, speaking with reporters on the condition of anonymity, said Monday that federal regulators in recent months had grown concerned about Corinthian after the company failed to provide timely information about enrollment and job-placement rates.

That led the department to place restrictions on disbursement of student-aid funds to Corinthian.

The department plans to keep close oversight of Corinthian sales and closures through an independent monitor.

Students in some circumstances will be eligible for refunds, federal officials say.

A former Post education editor, Nick writes about college from the perspective of a father of three who will soon be buried in tuition bills.
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