For-Profit Colleges Come Under Congressinal Scrutiny

One US Senate witness referred to them as “marketing machines masquerading as universities” while US Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) expressed concern that the federal government knows very little about the lucrative world of for-profit colleges. “We don’t know how many students graduate, how many get jobs, how school that are not publicly traded spend their Title IV dollars, and how many for-profit students default over the long term,” said Harkin as he opened an oversight hearing on the burgeoning industry.
Many questions may linger about the for-profit colleges but one thing is for sure-they attract large numbers of students. According to a report released yesterday, the 14 publicly traded colleges enroll a combined 1.4 million students in schools such as DeVry University, Sanford-Brown Institute, the University of Phoenix, and Argosy University, just to name a few.
Some of these schools are not properly accredited so it makes it even tougher to find a job after graduating from one of these for-profit schools. A NY Times article noted the plight of one young single mother who had enrolled for classes at Sanford-Brown Institute in order to be an ultrasound technician. Once she completed the program she discovered Sanford-Brown wasn’t properly accredited so she couldn’t find a job. Yet she was still saddled with $21,000 in student loans that can’t be discharged in bankruptcy.
During the oversight hearings chaired by Senator Tom Harkin, the committee heard from Kathleen Tighe, the inspector general of the federal Department of Education who told the committee that while the for-profit colleges account for only 10% of the nation’s college students, the for-profit colleges account for 70% of the department’s criminal investigations concerning federal student aid fraud. Another alarming statistic concerns the inordinate amount of federal student aid the for-colleges receive-a whopping 25% of all student aid awarded in Pell grants and Stafford loans.
It’s high time the federal government began investigating these for-profit colleges. Too many students are drowning in college loan debt already.