July 19, 2012

The Latest On For-Profit College Ripoffs: Tonight’s NBC Expose And More

High-priced lobbyists representing for-profit colleges, an industry largely created by K Street pressure over a decade, continue to do everything possible to avoid accountability for that industry’s waste, fraud, and abuse with $32 billion a year of your tax dollars. Many on Capitol Hill do the bidding of these wealthy companies and get campaign contributions in return. But some courageous leaders are standing up for students and taxpayers, and through their efforts more and more people are coming to realize that many schools in this industry are cynically ripping off taxpayers and ruining students’ lives.  Here’s some new video and recent developments:

  • Tonight at 10 pm, Natalie Morales and NBC Rock Center will report on how for-profit colleges are leaving many students with overwhelming debt.  Watch a preview of the investigative report:

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Morales appropriately discloses in her report that the biggest for-profit college, the University of Phoenix, is a sponsor of NBC’s Education Nation project — one of many examples of this industry seeking to buy the support not only of politicians, but also of the news media and advocacy groups.

  • Gerri Willis has consistently used her Fox Business show to expose abuses by for-profit schools. Watch her latest segment here — Tom Tarantino of the Iraq Afghanistan Veterans of America discussing how these schools abuse our vets.
  • The LA Times published its own powerful piece about how the for-profits take advantage of veterans:

After Moses Maddox left the Marine Corps in 2006, he took a sales job with the for-profit University of Phoenix, making up to 100 calls a day to persuade veterans to enroll using their GI Bill benefits. Only after he enrolled himself did the former corporal discover that the state university he wanted to attend didn’t accept the nine course credits he’d earned at Phoenix.

“Basically, I wasted my GI Bill benefits — just like a lot of other veterans I talk to,” said Maddox, who until recently was a veterans benefits counselor at Palomar College in San Diego County….

Maddox said he was called an “enrollment counselor” at Phoenix but was basically a telemarketer and recruiter — “the kind of people I hang up on at night,” he said. “We capitalized on peoples’ fears and lack of knowledge.”

  • In a stunning development, a regional accrediting body told Bridgepoint Education, the owner for for-profit Ashford University, that it has denied Ashford’s application for initial accreditation. Soon after, the Higher Learning Commission, which currently accredits Ashford, asked Bridgepoint to prove it is complying with commission guidelines. Bridgepoint, which is under investigation by at least six state Attorneys General, in 2009 spent more than $2000 per student on recruiting and only $700 per student on instruction. Of every 100 associate degree students who enrolled in Bridgepoint in 2008-09, 84 had dropped out by September 2010.
  • The Hechinger Report found that for-profit colleges contributed at least $694,829 to candidates for federal office through May 31, “much of it to members of Congress who oppose greater regulation of the industry, including proposed curbs on aggressive recruiting of veterans with G.I. Bill benefits.” We know that the campaign and associated Super PAC of Mitt Romney, who has pledged to overturn rules issued by the Obama Administration to hold for-profits accountable, have received hundreds of thousands in donations from the industry.  Romney, who has told voters that for-profits are a great affordable option, should tune in to NBC’s report tonight.