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Eagan for-profit college ordered to close

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Everest Institute in Eagan is part of a chain of for-profit colleges that has been ordered to stop enrolling students.

The Pioneer Press reports that the Eagan school is one of the schools the publicly-traded Corinthian College chain will close in an agreement with the U.S. Education Department. Two other online Corinthian schools that enroll Minnesotans and a third that recruits them for campuses in other states are expected to be sold. The newspaper said that about 300 Minnesotans attend the four Corinthian-owned schools.

Nationally, the for-profit chain operates campuses under the names Heald, Everest and WyoTech. NPR News reported that the chain is closing or selling its schools following a federal investigation that began in January. Its 97 schools have more than 72,000 students, making it the largest college, by enrollment, to be shut down this way.

In June, the Education Department began delaying financial aid payments because Corinthian had not provided data required by federal law. Last year, Corinthian received $1.4 billion in federal aid. A federal report showed that Corinthian had one of the worst track records of any for-profit college; half of its programs failed the agency’s standards, according to the New York Times.

Kent Jenkins, a Corinthian spokesman, told the newspaper that the chain had looked at the sale prospects for each school and decided that finding a buyer for the Eagan campus would be difficult. The average cost of attending Everest is about $20,000 a year. According to its website, the Everest Institute in Eagan offers coursework in a few areas in the medical field, including massage therapy and programs to train students to be medical assistants or pharmacy techs. Location for the program is listed at 1000 Blue Gentian Rd. in Eagan.

The state has received a handful of complaints about Everest College over the years according to George Roedler from the Minnesota Office of Higher Education. He said the federal agreement that is closing the chain requires all of the schools to "teach out" current students so they can finish their programs.

"That is the immediate concern," Roedler said. "We think by the end of the year the majority of students who are there will be taught out."

The Pioneer Press heard from two students at the Eagan Everest Institute who are trying to complete their massage therapy programs and indicated they are getting help from their instructors.

"They are working to keep everyone on the right path," said Amber Bowers of St. Paul, who expects to finish her studies this month.

Under the sale and closure deal, the Education Department will release $35 million to Corinthian schools so current students can complete their studies.

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