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 DurbinFive things to watch at Supreme Court's DACA hearings Trump circuit court nominee in jeopardy amid GOP opposition Senate fight derails bipartisan drug pricing bills MORE (Ill.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn), Mazie K. Hirono (Hawaii), Edward J. Markey (Mass.), Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinHarris shares video addressing staffers the night Trump was elected: 'This is some s---' Centrist Democrats seize on state election wins to rail against Warren's agenda Senate talks on stalled Violence Against Women Act reauthorization unravel MORE (Calif.), Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinIt's time for Congress to establish a national mental health crisis number The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Better Medicare Alliance - Dems unveil impeachment measure; Vindman splits GOP The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Better Medicare Alliance - Dems shift strategy on impeachment vote MORE (Wisc.), Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.) and Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownSunday shows — New impeachment phase dominates Brown confirms he won't enter 2020 race: 'I think it's a good field' GM officially sells Ohio plant, months after Trump touted sale 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.