4,800 Students of some for-profit colleges in Ohio to have $12.2 million in debts erased

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTAP) - Nearly 4,800 Ohio residents will have $12.2 million in college tuition debts erased after a nationwide settlement was reached Thursday with Career Education Corporation, a for-profit education provider that operates multiple colleges and universities.

As part of the nationwide settlement agreement between Career Education Corporation (CEC) and 48 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, CEC is expected to forgo collecting nearly $493.7 million in debts owed by former students, including an estimated $12.2 million for about 4,800 Ohioans.

The settlement resolves allegations that Career Education Corporation pressured employees at its schools to enroll students and misled students, or withheld information, about the costs of enrollment, job placement rates, ability to transfer credits, and lack of accreditation of some of its programs.

Schools currently or formerly operated in the U.S. by Career Education Corporation include American InterContinental University, Briarcliffe College, Brooks Institute, Collins College, Colorado Technical University, Harrington College of Design, International Academy of Design & Technology, Le Cordon Bleu, Missouri College, and Sanford-Brown Colleges and Institutes.

Career Education Corporation will send letters to qualifying former students at their last known address with information about the relief within 60 days. (The debt relief does not include federal student loans or private student loans issued by an entity other than Career Education Corporation.)

The settlement also outlines recruiting and enrollment practices the company must adopt, including, generally:

1. Providing a single-sheet disclosure with information about a program’s expected costs, job placement rate, and median earnings of graduates.
2. Requiring students to complete an interactive disclosure process about expected post-graduation costs.
3. Not enrolling students in programs that lack accreditation required for jobs in their field.
4. Requiring an orientation program for incoming students with fewer than 24 credits.
5. Allowing undergraduate students with fewer than 24 credits to withdraw within the first 21 days of the program.