Congress Will Investigate For-Profit Colleges

After a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report found “deceptive practices” at the 15 for-profit colleges officials visited, Sen. Charles Grassley promised an investigation into the colleges and their accreditation process. The deceptive practices involved fraud concerning student loan applications. GAO officials, posing as prospective students, were encouraged to lie about family income, list fake dependents, and hide savings accounts. In some instances, prospective students were not allowed to speak with financial aid staff until they signed an enrollment agreement.
Curiously, the Wall St. Journal ran an Op-Ed piece a week or so before the NY Times published their story on the for-profit colleges. We’ve had former students of these for-profit colleges come to us seeking our advice after they’ve accumulated six figure debt without a degree or a degree that was accepted in Master’s or Doctoral programs.
If you’ve spent anytime at home during a weekday, you’ve seen the advertisements on television. The schools promise degrees in short periods of time that lead to rewarding careers. According to the NY Times’ story and our own experience dealing with the students, this is simply not true. Too often, these for-profit schools are run like a corporation rather than a higher educational institutions. In some instances, the schools are even properly accredited so the degrees they offer are useless and worthless.
Senator Grassley is correct in investigating this system. The last thing we want in this country is an educational system that’s based on duping unsuspected students with huge post-graduate debt, no education, and a worthless degree.