December 18, 2012

Sexy For-Profit College Ad Targets ex-Lehman Bros Employees

Many of America’s big for-profit colleges spend more on advertising and high-pressure recruiting than they do on educating students — a key reason why so many of their students drop out and end up with insurmountable debt. If you have a TV or a computer — and you do — then you are probably bombarded with ads for these colleges and training academies.

Today a friend who worked at the now-defunct investment bank Lehman Brothers noticed a particularly fine-crafted ad, stating “ATTN: Lehman Bros employees! Explore online degrees. Your tuition fees could be covered!”  Illustrating this proposition is a young woman luxuriating in an off-the-shoulder top. My friend was not taken in; he told me, “the girl would probably never talk to me if we become coeds.” Ahem, woman, not girl!  But anyway …

Sexy For-Profit College Ad Targets ex-Lehman Bros Employees

My friend declined to click on the link, so I don’t know what school (for-profit or otherwise) posted the ad. Let me know if you do.  One-time Lehman rival Goldman Sachs owns 41 percent of the second biggest for-profit college company, EDMC; perhaps they can see how former Wall Streeters would benefit from attending an online school.

As to the promise that “Your tuition fees could be covered,” it presumably references the fact that the big for-profit colleges get about 86 percent of their revenues from federal student financial aid. Many Lehman employees took a hard hit after the firm’s record bankruptcy in 2008, but not all would qualify for federal Pell grants. Rich or poor, however, most students would be able to get federally-guaranteed and privately-issued student loans.  But, of course, they have to pay those loans back, with interest. So tuition and fees are only “covered” temporarily. If I were that young woman, I would stop relaxing and reconsider my educational options.

This article also appears on Huffington Post.