OLYMPIA — Attorney General Bob Ferguson joined seven attorneys general today in calling on U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald to restore education benefits to veterans who were victims of predatory institutions, such as Corinthian Colleges, Inc.
“Our veterans earned these benefits by serving our country,” Ferguson said. “These institutions specifically preyed upon them, using false promises and dishonest statistics about their programs and job placement. These deceptive schools took veterans’ education benefits and left them without the right training and qualifications to reach their goals.”
The attorneys general sent a letter to McDonald, asking him to use his authority to restore affected veterans’ benefits and eligibility, as well as to take steps to ensure veterans have full and accurate information about their educational options.
Veterans are eligible for benefits including the G.I. Bill, which gives student-veterans benefits totaling up to $21,084.89 per year, and the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program, which helps veterans with service-connected disabilities receive job training and education.
“We honor the service and sacrifice of our veterans by ensuring that when they return home, they have access to benefits that will help them transition to civilian employment and build lives for themselves and their families,” the attorneys general wrote in the letter. “Rather than being honored, the veterans who enrolled in Corinthian schools were cheated out of these benefits.”
In Washington state, Corinthian owned and operated six Everest College campuses, enrolling some 3,000 students, until February 2015, when their sale to Zenith Education Group was finalized. Zenith transitioned the schools from for-profit to nonprofit status.
Multiple actions and investigations are underway to hold Corinthian and similar institutions accountable for their deceptive practices.
Ferguson is committed to ending predatory practices by for-profit colleges in Washington. In November 2015, the office obtained loan forgiveness for qualifying former students at The Art Institute of Seattle and Argosy University’s Seattle campus, and a mandate to reform the for-profit college company’s deceptive business practices.
Ferguson joined eight other state attorneys general in April 2015, calling on the U.S. Department of Education to relieve the debt burden on thousands of students victimized by Corinthian and provide a clear process to help student borrowers get debt relief. An August 2015 letter with 11 other attorneys general called for the cancellation of federal loans where schools have broken state law.
The other states to sign on to today’s letter are: California, Connecticut, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New Mexico and Oregon.
Free student loan debt assistance
For problems with your student loan servicer or a debt collector contact the U.S. Department of Education’s Student Loan Ombudsman at 1-877-557-2575 or online, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office.
The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.
Peter Lavallee, Communications Director, (360) 586-0725; PeterL@atg.wa.gov