WASHINGTON — This past week, one of the biggest career college chains completed its collapse.

Corinthian Colleges once ran 107 campuses that served more than 100,000 students. It was a Wall Street darling for its lucrative model of offering degrees to low-income students who borrowed heavily from the government to pay tuition.

But allegations that the company lied about the success of its programs and trapped students in predatory loans ultimately led to its downfall. Now 16,000 students are left without degrees for programs that many took on debt to complete. Hundreds of others are fighting for the government to forgive debt they struggle to repay.

“Corinthian enticed students to enroll in its schools and to take on enormous debt. Their profit model was to cheat their students,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said at a Howard University forum Monday on student debt. “Corinthian was shut down, but what about the tens of thousands of students who were taken in by the lies? They are still paying those loans back.”

Even when it became clear years ago that Corinthian’s schools had serious problems, the government allowed students to continue entering classrooms and taking on more taxpayer-funded debt. The closings have left thousands of students unsure of what to do with their debt or even where to complete their educations.

Democratic lawmakers and consumer groups are pressuring to have the federal student loans wiped away – without conditions – for the 16,000 students affected by the closure. As it stands, students who opt to transfer their credits to another school would be ineligible to have their loans forgiven.

And many students are confused about the ramifications of the options available to them, said Lauren Asher, president of the Institute for College Access & Success, an education nonprofit.

“It ought not to be so difficult to figure out your options, and you shouldn’t have to find out the consequences of your actions only after you’ve made them,” she said.

Education officials say they have deployed counselors to the Corinthian campuses. They also say the department doesn’t have the power to grant unconditional loan forgiveness.

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