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The U.S. Department of Education is sorting through nearly 20,000 loan-forgiveness requests from students asserting that their for-profit colleges misled them when they took on heavy debt burdens to pay for expensive programs.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the Department of Education is processing 19,657 so-called "borrower's defense requests" in which former students have an opportunity to demonstrate that they were misled at the time of enrollment with promises relating to programs and job placement. 

To date, the government has allowed around 3,400 borrowers to cancel $27 million in student loan debt, with the vast majority relating to former students of Corinthian Colleges, Inc., the for-profit giant that ran Everest, WyoTech and Heald College before it collapsed as a result of intense federal scrutiny.
 
 
Inside Higher Ed reports that the remnants of Corinthian Colleges purchased last year by Zenith Education Group have shrunken further due to additional consolidation.

According to the news organization, Zenith is consolidating eight of the campuses of the Everest and WyoTech campuses that it purchased last year from Corinthian Colleges and is gradually closing two campuses in Florida. 

More than Z00 Zenith employees are losing their jobs and more than 100 positions at Everest Online and student financial support are being eliminated, according to Inside Higher Ed.

After this round of consolidation, Zenith will have 24 Everest campuses and three WyoTech campuses, the news organization reported.

Earlier in March, the Associated Press reported that many problems at Everest and WyoTech were persisting for students after Zenith's purchase in 2015 of parts of the now-defunct Corinthian Colleges chain. Zenith disputes the A.P. story.

 
 
A California state court judge has hit now-defunct Corinthian Colleges with a $1.1 billion judgment for deceptive trade practices that played a significant role in the unraveling of the for-profit education giant nearly a year ago.

The final default judgment entered by San Francisco Superior Court Judge Curtis E.A. Karnow found that Corinthian had "knowingly misled students with phony job numbers and advertisements for programs that didn't exist, illegally used official military seals in its promotions and engaged in unlawful debt collection practices, among other violations," according to a report in the San Jose Mercury News.

The suit against Corinthian was brought by California Attorney General Kamala Harris, one of a number of state and federal regulatory actions brought on behalf of current and former students of for-profit giant Corinthian, which aggressively and deceptively marketed education programs under brands that included Heald, Wyotech and Everest.

In April 2015, under intense regulatory pressure, Corinthian suddenly closed, filing bankruptcy a month later.

In a news release, the California attorney general hailed the $1.1 billion judgment, saying, "This judgment sends a clear message: there is a cost to this kind of predatory conduct."

 
 
California consumer protection officials have ordered the once-venerable Corinthian Colleges to stop enrolling new students at its remaining 13 Wyotech and Everest College campuses in the state due to growing concerns about the schools' viability.

According to a report in the Orange County Register, officials with the state's Bureau of Private Postsecondary Education cited concerns over the schools' financial resources, mounting legal pressures and inadequate regulatory disclosures in issuing the order to stop new enrollments to Corinthian, which does not require the for-profit company to cease operations.

California bureau chief Joanne Wenzel said in a statement that the order was necessary to “protect individuals who may have been thinking about enrolling at these schools.” 

The Register report added:  "Corinthian has been seeking to sell its California campuses since June under an agreement with the U.S. Department of Education and has previously argued that continuing to enroll students was necessary to maintain their financial viability and prevent school closures.The agreement with the U.S. Department of Education followed years of increasing scrutiny by state and federal regulators over the accuracy of Corinthian’s job placement statistics and loan practices, and marked the beginning of the company’s slow unraveling.  Corinthian officials maintain that regulators have unfairly targeted them for isolated incidents of employee misconduct and their business model performs a valuable role in educating students who are under-served by more traditional institutions."