Educational Credit Management Corporation

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Educational Credit Management Corporation (ECMC) is a United States nonprofit corporation based in Minnesota. Since 1994, ECMC has operated in the areas of student loan bankruptcy management and loan collection. ECMC is one of a number of guaranty agencies that oversee student loans for the United States Department of Education.

In its role, ECMC works to reduce student-loan default rates and provide resources to help students repay their loans, as well as promote financial literacy and student success in higher education.[1] ECMC provides current and future borrowers with free services,[2] and also employs an ombudsman to impartially assist with complaints and disputes, questions, and to clarify processes.[3]

ECMC also focuses on helping minority-serving institutions (MSIs) improve student success and institutional outcomes. On such initiative provides aid for students dealing with unforeseen financial emergencies.[4]

As a guarantor working on behalf of the U.S. Department of Education, ECMC charges fees to debtors and earns commissions from taxpayers by collecting on defaulted student loans pursuant to the Higher Education Act. In return, the U.S. government has retrieved billions of dollars from student loan debtors.[5] Since 1994, according to ECMC, they have returned $4.3 billion to the U.S. Treasury.[6]

ECMC has been controversial for its "ruthless" tactics in recovering loans and for the large bonuses it paid its collectors.[6][7]

History[edit]

The company was founded in 1994 in Minnesota.[7]

In March 2010, the company was the target of data theft. The personal information on 3.3 million student-loan borrowers was taken.[8]

In 2012, a panel of bankruptcy appeal judges criticized the company for its "waste of judicial resources," and abuse of the bankruptcy process.[7]

In February 2015, the company's newly created subsidiary Zenith Education Group acquired 56 Everest College and WyoTech campuses from Corinthian Colleges Inc. Zenith transitioned the schools from for-profit to nonprofit status. It also eliminated some programs with poor completion and job placement rates.[9] The deal included the forgiveness of $480 million in loans Corinthian students took out, earning praise from federal agencies and some consumer groups.[10]

ECMC Group reported a loss of $100 million for Zenith Education Group in 2015. In 2016, Zenith maintained 24 Everest College and Wyotech campuses, having consolidated, closed or begun teaching out 32 campuses. In 2016, ECMC Group gave $250 million to Zenith to maintain the remaining schools.[11]

As of 2017, Zenith maintains three campuses under a new name, Altierus.[12] The three campuses in Florida, Georgia, and Texas are focused on career and technical education.[13] In March 2019, Altierus Career College launched its Refrigeration Technician and Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Technician programs.[14] Other programs offered include, Dental Assistants, Medical Assistant, Pharmacy Technician, Surgical Technologist, Electrical, Nursing, and Medical Coding and Billing.[15]

Political influence[edit]

According to Open Secrets, ECMC Group previously paid Podesta Group $580,000 to lobby for them. [16][17][18] The Podesta Group, founded by Tony Podesta and John Podesta was one of the most powerful and influential lobbying firms in Washington, DC.[19] The firm closed in November 2017.[20]

Controversies[edit]

In 2012, a panel of bankruptcy appeal judges denounced ECMC for wasting judicial resources, and said its collection activities "constituted an abuse of the bankruptcy process and defiance of the court's authority."[21]

In 2014, US Representative Steve Cohen from Tennessee said ECMC's purchase of Everest Colleges and Wyotech "raises great questions about their purposes." The Congressman added that "there's a stench that's out there above this whole area, and the merger."[22]

In 2016, the Associated Press reported that the remaining colleges continued to recruit students through telemarketing and advertisements on daytime TV talk shows, and had not made substantive changes to its curriculum.[23] A new federal monitor was instituted after it was revealed that there was a conflict of interest between the monitor and ECMC.[24]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kerr, Emma (April 10, 2019). "How to Write a Financial Aid Appeal Letter". U.S. News & World Report.
  2. ^ Hawkins, Phil (June 11, 2019). "Woodburn Celebrates 2019 Graduating Class". Woodburn Independent.
  3. ^ Rosso May, Anne (August 2018). "Debt Neutrality". Collector.
  4. ^ "ECMC Foundation Pledges $1.5 Million for COVID-19 Relief for Students". Philanthropy News Digest. April 19, 2020.
  5. ^ https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2012-05-15/taxpayers-fund-454-000-pay-for-collector-chasing-student-loans
  6. ^ a b Hechinger, John (14 May 2012). "Taxpayers Fund $454,000 Pay for Collector Chasing Student Loans". Bloomberg.com. Retrieved 22 May 2015.
  7. ^ a b c Kitroeffjan, Natalie (1 January 2014). "Loan Monitor Is Accused of Ruthless Tactics on Student Debt". New York Times. Retrieved 22 May 2015.
  8. ^ Pilon, Mary (29 March 2010). "Data Theft Hits 3.3 Million Borrowers". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 22 May 2015.
  9. ^ Douglas-Gabriel, Danielle (3 February 2015). "Here's how a debt collector plans to turn around failing for-profit colleges". Washington Post. Retrieved 22 May 2015.
  10. ^ Fain, Paul (February 4, 2015). "Corinthian Sale Goes Through". Inside Higher Ed.
  11. ^ https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2016/07/28/zenith-education-gets-new-leader-250-million-it-seeks-turn-around-former-corinthian
  12. ^ https://consumerist.com/2017/07/20/everest-college-changes-name-to-altierus-two-years-after-turning-nonprofit/
  13. ^ https://www.zenith.org/schools/index.html
  14. ^ "Altierus Career College Launches New Trades Programs to Meet Need for Skilled Labor". Education Dive. February 13, 2019.
  15. ^ https://www.altierus.edu/. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  16. ^ https://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/clientsum.php?id=D000050381&year=2016
  17. ^ https://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/clientsum.php?id=D000050381&year=2015
  18. ^ https://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/clientsum.php?id=D000050381&year=2014
  19. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/02/us/02podesta.html
  20. ^ Meyer, Theodoric (November 10, 2017). "Inside the Podesta Group's last days". Politico.
  21. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/02/us/loan-monitor-is-accused-of-ruthless-tactics-on-student-debt.html?_r=1
  22. ^ https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-11-20/ecmcs-bid-for-corinthian-colleges-the-buyer-has-its-own-problems
  23. ^ http://bigstory.ap.org/article/44a2dafaa35c4b75ae640a8a423080c3/education-department-replaces-career-college-chain-monitor
  24. ^ http://bigstory.ap.org/article/44a2dafaa35c4b75ae640a8a423080c3/education-department-replaces-career-college-chain-monitor