Washington, DC – Earlier today, Inside Higher Ed reported that the Education Corporation of America (ECA) will be closing its more than 75 different campuses and beginning to wind down operations. According to federal government data, as of 2017, more than 50,000 total students were enrolled in ECA colleges, and more than 37,000 ECA students took out federal student loans totaling nearly $300 million in the previous 12 months.
Earlier this year, ECA sued the Department of Education to continue receiving federal dollars while applying to enter receivership and closing of some of its campuses. ECA was also forced to look for a new accreditor when their former accreditor, the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS), was suspended in 2016 after accrediting failed for-profit colleges Corinthian and ITT Tech.
In response to today’s ruling, Reid Setzer, Government Affairs Director for Young Invincibles, issued the following statement:
“The Education Corporation of America was a poor-performing for-profit college system that accepted billions in federal loans and grants made to students who too often did not get what they paid for: a quality credential. More than 20 ECA campuses failed the gainful employment rule, a measure designed to ensure students get quality credentials in exchange for the student debt they take on. Virginia College, one of the college brands owned by ECA, was also recently denied accreditation from another accrediting agency, citing poor graduation and job placement rates. ECA’s closure leaves tens of thousands of young people in the lurch as they try to decide what’s best for their educational and financial futures.
ECA’s collapse shows why it’s so critical for the Department of Education to hold schools accountable for consistently poor performances, and embrace its responsibility to protect students and taxpayers. By rolling back student protections like the gainful employment and borrower defense rules, and reinstating failed accreditor ACICS, the Department of Education is making it more likely that poor-performing and predatory institutions benefit from millions in federal financial aid dollars at the expense of students for years to come.”