Everest campuses in state may close

Parent company accused of preying on low-income students

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Local Angle

Everest College operates in Vancouver at 120 N.E. 136th Ave., Suite 130. The local branch, with about 300 students, has degree and/or certificate programs in the fields of accounting, administrative assisting, bookkeeping, business administration, medical assisting, medical billing and coding and paralegal. It was started in Vancouver in 1999 as a massage therapy program and continues to offer massage therapy. The school’s tuition ranges from about $15,000 to $40,000 a year with programs between eight months and two years.

In the Portland metro area, the college has campuses in downtown and Tigard, Ore.

SEATTLE — Federal and state agencies are investigating a California company that runs six for-profit colleges in Western Washington, among others nationwide.

Corinthian Colleges Inc., which operates six Everest College campuses in the state, is facing allegations of preying on low-income students and falsifying job-placement rates, among other concerns, The Seattle Times reported Thursday.

The publicly traded company, with about 72,000 students nationwide, is expected to close or sell the schools under an agreement being negotiated with the U.S. Department of Education, the Times reported.

The company has denied any wrongdoing, and it says no school closures are imminent, the newspaper reported.

About 3,000 students were enrolled in six Everest campuses in 2012, including in Seattle, Renton, Tacoma, Everett, Bremerton and Vancouver, according to federal data. The campuses offer classes for medical and dental assistants, massage therapists and pharmacy technicians.

Corinthian is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice, the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Securities and Exchange Commission, as well as the Washington state Attorney General’s office.

Last month, the U.S. Department of Education put Corinthian on heightened financial monitoring after the company failed to address concerns over its practices, including falsifying job-placement data used in marketing claims and allegations of altered grades and attendance.

The federal agency is trying to reach an accord with the company so students have a way to finish their degrees. The two parties say they will announce a plan for closing some of its schools and selling others in coming days, the Times reported.

Meanwhile, Washington’s student-aid office has yanked Everest student-aid funding for next year.

Until now, low-income students at the Renton campus had been eligible for State Need Grant dollars, the Times said. That support is being pulled for the 2014-2015 school year, said Rachelle Sharpe, director of student financial assistance and support for the Washington Student Achievement Council.