Thursday, November 19, 2015

Dade Medical College is closing and its former CEO is charged with making illegal campaign contributions: All its former students should have their federal student loans forgiven

Dade Medical College, a Florida for-profit institution that trains medical professionals, is closing. Its former CEO, Ernesto Perez, is a high-school dropout and former rock musician who at one time made a salary of $431,000 a year; and the college collected $100 million in federal student aid money over a three-year period.

DMC students, however, didn't do so well. According to the Miami Herald, DMC's  Hollywood (Florida) campus had a pass rate of only 13 percent on the 2014 Florida nurses' exam.

And DMC surely benefited from strategic political contributions. David Halperin, writing for Huffington Post article, wrote:
Perez and his wife have given at least $100,000 to political candidates and PACs, with recipients including Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Harry Reid (D-NV), and Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and Joe Garcia (D-FL) . . . .
Miami Herald writer Fred Grimm reported that Perez and his associates made $750,000 in political contributions. And a couple of Florida state legislators were actually on DMC's payroll. Indeed, Perez was recently charged with making illegal campaign contributions

What is going to happen to DMC's 2000 students, most of whom took out student loans to finance their studies? The U.S.  Department of Education has a program in place whereby students can have their federal loans forgiven if their institution closes before they complete their studies. There is also a loan forgiveness program for students who were defrauded by the educational institution they attended.

But these programs are cumbersome. Only a small fraction of  Corinthian Colleges' former students have obtained relief from their student loans, even though Corinthian recently filed for bankruptcy and is being investigated by several states' attorneys general for misrepresentations and other improprieties. Corinthian has 350,000 former students, but as of September only about 3,000 of them have had their student loans forgiven.

It is probably true that some people actually benefited from attending Ernesto Perez's medical college. After all, a small percentage of DMC students who took the nursing exam actually passed it.

But surely most DMC students have a good argument that their student loans should be forgiven. So why should DMC students have to file individual claims to have their loan obligations wiped out?

Given what we know about this tawdry institution, it does not seem fair to require all of DMC's former students to go through an elaborate administrative process in order to have  their student loans forgiven.  No--DOE should wipe the slate clean for everyone who took out a federal student loan to attend Dade Medical College.

Image result for ernesto perez dade medical college
Ernesto Perez in court
photo credit: Al Diaz, Miami Herald

References

Francisco Alvarado. Dade Medical College Has Powerful Friends but Struggling Students.  Broward/Palm Beach  New Times, August 29, 2013.  Accessible at: http://www.browardpalmbeach.com/2013-08-29/news/dade-medical-college-has-powerful-friends-but-struggling-students/

Patricia Born & Jay Weaver. Homestead mayor's ties to downtown redeveloper probed. Miami Herald, June 8, 2013. Accessible at: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/06/08/v-fullstory/3441091/homestead-mayors-ties-to-downtown.html


Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/06/08/v-fullstory/3441091/homestead-mayors-ties-to-downtown.html#storylink=cpy
Dade Medical College.  Ernesto Perez to be Honored at SFBJ CEO Awards. 2013. Accessible at: http://www.dademedical.edu/rightnow/ernestoperezbehonoredsfbjceoawards

Kelly Field, "U.S. Has Forgiven Loans of More Than 3,000 Ex-Corinthian Students, Chronicle of Higher Education, September 3, 2015. Accessible at: http://chronicle.com/article/US-Has-Forgiven-Loans-of/232855/?cid=pm&utm_source=pm&utm_medium=en

Fred Grimm. Before his fall, Ernesto Perez bought himself lots of friends. Miami  Herald, November 4, 2015. Accessible at: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/news-columns-blogs/fred-grimm/article42988848.html

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/news-columns-blogs/fred-grimm/article42988848.html#storylink=cpy

David Halperin. $33 Million Per Year of Your Tax Money to For-Profit College Whose CEO Hid Criminal Record. Huffington Post, October 21, 2013. Accessible at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/davidhalperin/33-million-per-year-of-yo_b_4136451.html

Michael Vasquez. Amid criminal charges, CEO of Dade Medical Ccollege Resigns. Miami Herald, October 23, 2013. Accessible at: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/10/23/3706821/ernesto-perez-resigns-as-head.html

Dade Medical College owner turns himself in. Miami Herald, November 3, 2015. Accessible at: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/education/article42643344.html

Michael Vasquez and Christina Veiga. A for-profit empire, Dade Medical College, tumbles down. Miami Herald, October 30, 2015. Accessible at: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article41967387.html


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