More about For-Profit Colleges

Posted by Judy Anne Cavey on Jan 10, 2011 in , , | No Comments

For-profit colleges might be leading you down a path to major debt.

In an article for the Los Angeles Times, The Threat of a New Bubble from For-Profit Colleges, written by Senator Tom Harkin, D-Iowa and chairman of the Senate committee on Health, Education, Labor and pensions, paints a gloomy picture for prospective students. He zeros in on for-profit colleges, the ones that promise to graduate you into a well-paying job, once you have their certificate in hand. They also take your money and run, leaving you in major debt and without a job. How can they do this?

Harkin states, “…serious questions have been raised about some of the major players in this rapidly growing industry. Critics charge that many for-profit colleges employ aggressive recruiting tactics targeting low-income students. Students take on excessive debt, and though dropout rates are not available, there is reason to believe that they are very high.”

Not only are these schools taking students for a financial ride through their Pell Grants and Stafford Loans, additionally, they are taking money from us–the U.S. taxpayer–who are providing that money. The grants and loans are paid by the government to the schools, with no accountability for student learning, graduation or job placement.

Many students don’t check into a school and their program thoroughly enough before signing on. It’s usually not until they’ve graduated and gone job hunting, that they find the piece of paper they received is worthless in their industry of choice. Not only that, students at for-profit colleges are eight times more likely to graduate with a debt larger than $20,000. What happens if they can’t repay that debt, file bankruptcy? No, you cannot discharge student debt through bankruptcy.  This puts the student and the U.S. taxpayer at great risk, very similar to the recent mortgage industry meltdown. In fact, Senator Harkin compares the two as being similar in nature. The difference is, students cannot walk away from their loans as homeowners walked away from their homes.

Don’t be a victim of for-profit colleges with abusive practices–do your homework first! Verify the college is accredited and is considered a valid entity in the industry you plan to pursue. But don’t stop there, if what they offer sounds too good to be true, it usually is, don’t fall for their scheme. No one can guarantee a job placement right after graduation in this economy. So don’t believe hyped recruiting tactics and false advertising to get you, and your money.