Arizona Office of AG Holds For-Profit Schools Accountable for $22 Million in Student Debt Relief

Towards the end of last week, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced the AG’s Office—along with that of 47 other states as well as the District of Columbia—reached a multimillion dollar settlement with Career Education Corporation (hereafter: CEC) after a five-year investigation over for-profit colleges. 

In the settlement, CEC has agreed to forgo all efforts to collect any amount of money owed to them by former students who reside in participating states (as mentioned, above). This includes at least $22 million in restitution for more than 6,000 Arizona residents who are eligible because they attended specific schools, which also includes online courses. Also, CEC agreed to reform its recruiting and enrollment practices and to forgo collection of nearly $494 million debts collectively owed by 179,529 students across the United States. 

What you need to know about CEC is that this is a for-profit education company.  CEC operates schools across the nation with multiple campuses in Arizona that are no longer in operation.  The Arizona state attorneys general allege that CEC participated in several unfair and/or deceptive practices for many years. These practices could include—and are certainly not limited to—misleading prospective students about the actual costs of their overall education, the legitimate transferability of the credits they earn, school accreditation, diversity and quality of program offerings, and the accuracy of job placement rates. 

In a statement, Attorney General Mark Brnovich comments, “Decisions about higher education are already stressful enough without having to worry about the high cost of obtaining a college education or questioning the value of your degree.”  

He also remarks also about securing the $22 million in debt relief and their efforts to help thousands of students to deal with not only the massive debt they accrued while attending one of these schools, but also what to do with the, essentially, useless degrees they’ve earned in the process.  

He continues, “My office is going to keep fighting to improve access to higher education and improve the affordability of a college degree for all Arizonans.  This settlement will not only help ensure for-profit colleges better represent the truth to prospective students in the future, but it also contains injunctive relief that will help students make better-informed choices moving forward.”