In our Student Loan Truth blog series, our clients share what they really got from their for-profit college and how the debt affected them. Their experiences demand a public reckoning on student debt and an end to the predatory practices of for-profit colleges.
This month we interviewed Rick Dobashi, who attended Corinthian-owned WyoTech in San Jose, California from 2011-2013. Rick is part of our class action case Calvillo Manriquez v. DeVos, which represents students who were cheated by Corinthian Colleges (WyoTech, Heald, and Everest). Even though a judge ordered the Department of Education to stop collecting on the fraudulent loans of certain Corinthian students in May, the Department continues to fight back with its latest appeal this month.
This is Rick’s #StudentLoanTruth
What made you decide to attend WyoTech?
I went to WyoTech because I saw all these great opportunities advertised – high pay, advanced training, how many jobs are out there, things like that. I wanted to work on something I’m passionate about, so I enrolled in a program for working on high performance cars.
What was the education like at WyoTech?
Once I really got into the program, I started to realize that they weren’t telling us the truth. The few times we actually got to work on cars, they weren’t even up to date, never mind high performance – all built in the 70s and 80s. They also cancelled a lot of the car classes and basically forced us into other, unrelated programs.
It was pretty clear WyoTech just wanted to just us in the door and get our money. They didn’t care about the students or our education.
How did WyoTech affect your employment prospects?
After I finished the program, I went to start looking for jobs and found that those high paying jobs they promised us didn’t exist. They sent us job listings for washing cars – that is if they even had anything to with cars at all.
What I’m doing right now has nothing to do with WyoTech or cars. I’m self-employed and own my own retail tobacco business. I managed to do that despite WyoTech, not because of them.
How has this experience affected your life?
I walked out of there with a $20,000 bill and nothing to show for it. It caused a lot of credit problems for me. Even back when the housing market was somewhat affordable, I couldn’t buy anything because my debt to income ratio was too high. It’s been a difficult rebuilding process for a long time, trying to make ends meet.
You had friends who went to WyoTech at the same time as you, yet they had their loans cancelled and you haven’t received anything. How does that feel?
I feel robbed. If you buy something and it’s defective, you’re supposed to be able to return it. Instead, I’m being punished for trying to get an education and expected to pay over $20,000 for something I never received. We all went to the same school, had the same experience of being lied to. I don’t understand how the government can cancel these loans for some people, but not for others who were in the exact same situation. They should be cancelling all of the loans for these schools.
Some policy-makers doubt that for-profit colleges are a problem – what would you say to them?
This isn’t what education is supposed to be about. If you go to a school and are lied to and don’t get what you’re promised, you shouldn’t have to pay for it. Why should we be punished for trying to get an education, while these schools can just get away with lying and cheating?
Rick is one of many thousands of former Corinthian students who are still waiting for the debt cancellation they are owed, as the Department of Education continues to delay doing the right thing. The Project on Predatory Student Lending, along with advocates and elected officials across the country are urging the Department to Cancel Corinthian debts immediately.