Julia Child’s alma mater wasn’t dishing a recipe for success.
All 16 Le Cordon Bleu cooking schools across the U.S. are shutting down, its money-losing parent company Career Education Corporation announced on Wednesday.
The 115-year-old culinary brand is famous for teaching the original celebrity chef in its Paris flagship in 1950. The cooking and hospitality institution eventually rose into a chain of American for-profit schools from Atlanta to Austin that churned out degrees in culinary arts, hospitality and management, along with cooking classes.
But Le Cordon Bleu’s degrees weren’t up to scratch, according to graduates that accused the school of misleading students about their job prospects after earning an expensive degree. Tuition runs between $16,000 and $42,500 a year, according to Le Cordon Bleu’s 2014-2015 catalog.
The culinary empire first showed signs of collapse after settling a 2013 class action lawsuit for $40 million led by former students who alleged that Career Ed recruiters oversold their job prospects after graduation. Many complained that they made salaries of just $12 an hour after earning degrees from the prestigious academy, and worked in menial jobs such as line cooks and baristas that did not require costly training.
The brand has also fallen under federal scrutiny under the Obama administration’s gainful employment rule. The new statute, which went into effect last July, cuts off federal funding from for-profit schools like Le Cordon Bleu if students borrow money at high rates, but earn peanuts after graduation. The new rule demands that student loan payments don’t exceed 20% of a graduate’s income after taxes to protect students from being buried in debt. Yet a recent Senate report reveals Le Cordon Bleu schools show unusually high rates of students withdrawing from the associate program and defaulting on student loans.
“New federal regulations make it difficult to project the future for career schools that have higher operating costs, such as culinary schools that require expensive commercial kitchens and ongoing food costs,” said Career Education CEO Todd Nelson in a statement. “We will continue with our plan to refocus Career Education’s resources on predominantly online university education.” Loan forgiveness is now available for former students from Le Cordon Bleu. Call (844) 692-6684 to check your eligibility.