Courtesy of Wyotech
Courtesy of Wyotech

This past April, the U.S. Department of Education fined the for-profit Corinthian College system $30 million for misleading loan agencies and students regarding the ability of their graduates to obtain jobs. Soon after, Corinthian College shut down all of its Everest, Heald, WyoTech and online campuses, halting the education of 13,000 California students.

In response, Assemblyman Jose Medina (D-Riverside) and Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) wrote Assembly Bill 573 (AB 573), a debt relief bill for the California students affected by the closure of Corinthian College. The bill received bipartisan support in both the state Senate and the state Assembly and easily passed both houses. The bill then passed on to Governor Brown who vetoed the legislation proposed to aid Corinthian College students.

In his message the Governor states, “While the bill’s provision to extend Cal Grant eligibility … are well-intentioned, I am not comfortable creating new General Fund costs outside of the budget process, particularly given the Cal Grant augmentations already included in this year’s budget.”

AB 573 would have expanded Cal Grant eligibility, National Guard Education Assistance awards and eligibility for California’s Student Tuition Recovery Fund to students who attended Heald campuses or partook solely in online education. Currently only students who attended the WyoTech or Everest campuses are eligible for California’s Student Tuition Recovery Fund.

This bill also aimed to increase the Student Tuition Recovery Fund from $25 million to $30 million, in addition to providing $1.3 million to help former Corinthian College students combat legal issues. Other benefits included directing former students toward both federal and private loan discharge and other types of financial aid relief available to them.

Many students, lawmakers and proponents of the bill have rallied against the governor citing the grievance of students who only wanted to get an education and blamed the lack of stricter legislation targeted at for-profit colleges.

“I think it’s sad the students got scammed out of their money like that. I believe there should be more laws about for-profit, non-accredited schools. They prey on people who are down on their luck and need a college education but maybe can’t get into a state or private school. There needs to be more legislation passed about who can claim to be a college and how they market their programs,” said art history major Kaytlyn Van Dorn-Hanson.

Medina, who is the Chair of the State Assembly’s High Education Committee, also feels deeply disappointed by the governor’s decision. In a statement he said that he feels the governor has “let down thousands of California students. These students, through no fault of their own, are still left with insurmountable debt and unfulfilled dreams of attaining a career.”

Medina believes strongly that the students harmed by the Corinthian College system deserve a second chance at getting a college education. He promises that this is not the last of the issue, and plans to revisit the bill next year.