Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Corinthian puts Everest Colleges up for sale; Colorado Springs call center stays open for now

Gazette and news services - Updated: July 8, 2014 at 3:00 pm

For-profit educator Corinthian Colleges is selling 85 of its U.S. campuses, including an Everest College campus in Colorado Springs, and will continue to operate its 300-employee call center in Colorado Springs during the sales process, a company spokesman said.

Corinthian also is selling Everest campuses in Aurora and Thornton and a WyoTech campus in Laramie, Wyo., under an agreement reached late last week with the U.S. Department of Education. Additionally, the agreement calls for Corinthian to wind down operations at 12 other schools; none are in Colorado.

Corinthian spokesman Kent Jenkins Jr. said Tuesday that Colorado's three Everest College campuses are continuing to enroll new students and hold classes. As of 2012, the latest year for which statistics are available, the Colorado Springs campus had 435 students and 232 faculty members, the Aurora campus had 443 students and 25 faculty members and the Thornton campus had 407 students and 33 faculty members.

A fourth Everest campus in Colorado, in North Aurora, was put up for sale in September and stopped enrolling students in February.

If the 85 campuses are not sold within six months, Corinthian will reconsider its options, Jenkins said.

"We are working toward completing the sale with a target date of six months," he said. "We are early in the process, but already have received a very significant number of inquiries."

Although the Colorado Springs call center continues to operate, its long-term fate is uncertain.

"It is something that will have to be worked out over the next six months. Because we are dealing with a number of different buyers, the call center is something that will have to be determined," he said.

Nationwide, Corinthian enrolls 72,000 students who receive $1.4 billion of federal financial aid annually, according to the Department of Education.

Corinthian has been under investigation by the Department of Education since January. On June 12, the school was placed on an increased level of oversight.

The education department alleged that the company failed to provide records concerning enrollment and job-placement data required by federal law and failed to fully address concerns about its practices.

On Thursday, the Department of Education said it and Corinthian agreed to a plan that allows students a chance to complete their education and protects taxpayers' investments "while Corinthian works to sell or close its campuses across the country in the next six months."

To ensure that Corinthian still can provide classes for its current students, the department agreed to release $35 million of student aid.

Jenkins said Corinthian was asked Jan. 23 to produce documents related to 175,000 graduates dating back four years, including attendance records, grades and job-placement outcomes.

He said the Department of Education was unhappy with the pace with which the documents were produced, and on June 12, the company received a letter from the department putting a 21-day hold on the company's Title IV funds, which include Perkins, Pell and Stafford grants and loans.

"That created a very significant cash shortage for us. As a result of that, we went to the department. We reached an agreement," Jenkins said. "And that set in motion the events that led to the actions we've taken."

No new students will be enrolled at the 12 Corinthian schools that are closing, although the campuses will remain open until the students have completed their studies. Those campuses are in Bensalem, Pa.; Chelsea, Mass.; Cross Lanes, W.V.; Eagan, Minn.; Fort Worth, Texas; Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo, Mich.; Merrillville, Ind.; Salt Lake City, Utah; St. Louis; Silver Spring, Md.; and McLean, Va.

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