Students Declare a Debt Strike

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Students Declare a Debt Strike
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This is an interesting turn of events. Former students of the for-profit Corinthian College system are going on strike and refusing to repay their student loans.


According to one member of the Corinthian 15, students have been duped into assuming exorbitant loans for sub par educational services and left with little means of finding work in their area of study.

Add to that, Corinthian College – one of the largest for-profit university chains in the country – was forced to sell 50 campuses and seek bankruptcy for another 14 last year after being sued by the U.S. Department of Education.


Corinthian Colleges, and other similar for profit educational organizations, are being compared to predatory lenders on par with payday loan companies. Reading through an online forum for impacted students, some alarming practices are being alleged:

  • These schools target low income individuals and single moms with promises of one-on-one tutoring that may not have materialized.
  • Students are pressured into remaining enrolled being told they will need to repay existing loans immediately.
  • An automatic re-enrollment process has signed some students up regardless of their intention to continue triggering bills for subsequent terms.
  • Some grades have been altered to keep students progressing through the program. 

I taught for a time at an online version of Everest University – which is a part of the Corinthian College system. While I’m not familiar with the administrative practices related to students and was not personally encouraged to alter student grades, I will say I was horrified to find out students were paying rates similar to my private grad school education at DePaul University. In 2002, graduate level courses were $500/credit hour.

In one class, students basically took an introductory Microsoft application course – in a largely self-paced structure. Online teachers in this scenario basically answer questions and monitor a course discussion board. A significant amount my of students did not participate and therefore paid dearly to receive failing grades.

It’s disturbing to think that many of those students were racking up student loan debt.

So What’s Their Plan?

The Corinthian 15 (now 100 or more) are planning to submit a collective request to the Department of Education to cancel their loans. Until then, they have refused to pay any more loans fully acknowledging that they’ll join the more than 2.4 million student debt holder with loans in default. The federal government has issued false certification discharges when fraud can be proven on the school’s part. 


LaTonya Suggs recently issued a correction, her current debt stands at $32,000 for her two year degree. That still blows my brain. She’s unemployed and claims she’s unable to qualify for work in her field of study.

There is a legitimate question at hand. Who’s responsible for this debt? Are the students responsible? After all, they made the choice, even if unfairly influenced by a for profit system, to assume the loans? Is the government responsible for knowingly allowing these institutions to exists and prey on the ill-informed? Ultimately the question remains – who will be on the hook for these loans?

This drama is only getting started. The play out will be interesting for sure.

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