Senate Dems call on VA to help student vets at Corinthian colleges

Senate Democrats are calling on the Department of Veteran Affairs to help student veterans navigate the collapse of Corinthian College.

The for-profit school closed 28 campuses late last month, leaving 1,600 students in the lurch, and filed for bankruptcy on May 4. Because hundreds of veterans used taxpayer-funded post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to enroll in Corinthian colleges, the lawmakers said the VA should provide students with information on how they will be impacted by the bankruptcy and closures.

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The collapse comes after Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and at least 20 state attorneys general, including California and Illinois, sued the school for making false and misleading advertisements to entice students to enroll and take out pricey loans to cover the cost. According to CFPB, the school charged students more than $75,000 in tuition and fees for a bachelor’s degree.

“We are aware that VA has posted some limited information online, including a copy of the letter that Corinthian sent to students and details about informational meetings that Corinthian will hold at their facilities," the senators said in the letter to VA Secretary Robert McDonald. "However, this fails to address the particular and immediate needs of affected veteran students.”

The letter was signed by Democratic Sens. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinMcConnell focuses on confirming judicial nominees with COVID-19 talks stalled Senate Republicans signal openness to working with Biden Top GOP senator calls for Biden to release list of possible Supreme Court picks MORE (Ill.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn), Mazie K. Hirono (Hawaii), Edward J. Markey (Mass.), Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinSenators offer disaster tax relief bill Democrats back away from quick reversal of Trump tax cuts Congress must save the Postal Service from collapse — our economy depends on it MORE (Calif.), Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinKeep teachers in the classroom Cher raised million for Biden campaign at LGBTQ-themed fundraiser Democrats seek balance in backing protests, condemning violence MORE (Wisc.), Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.) and Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownEmboldened Democrats haggle over 2021 agenda Hillicon Valley: Russia 'amplifying' concerns around mail-in voting to undermine election | Facebook and Twitter take steps to limit Trump remarks on voting | Facebook to block political ads ahead of election Top Democrats press Trump to sanction Russian individuals over 2020 election interference efforts MORE (Ohio).

The lawmakers said they are working to give VA the authority to provide relief to veteran students receiving GI Bill benefits who have been harmed by a school closure.

On Monday, attorneys representing an ad-hoc group of Corinthian students asked the Department of Justice to form a special committee in which the students can represent their own interests in the bankruptcy case.

“By taking this urgent action, the students — the real victims in this unnecessary and heartbreaking scandal — will have their specific interests represented,” Mark Rosenbaum, director of Public Counsel Opportunity Under Law, said in a news release. “These students were offered one of the most precious gifts of a democracy — the promise to access an education. Instead, they became victims of an irresponsible and negligent corporate culture.” 

According to Public Counsel Law Center, Robins Kaplan LLP and Strumwasser & Woocher LLP, the aggregate claims from the students could exceed $25 billion.