Monday, March 26, 2012

New York Times Exposes For-Profit Education Scams

In a March 23 editorial the New York Times accuses for-profit colleges of leaving "students with crippling debt while furnishing them valueless degrees." It reports that federal and state investigations have uncovered "unconscionable examples of fraud" and argues that these diploma mills must be reigned in.

The editorial is below and linked here:

For-Profit Education Scams
March 23, 2012

Attorneys general from more than 20 states have joined forces to investigate for-profit colleges that too often saddle students with crippling debt while furnishing them valueless degrees. The investigations have just begun.

But it is already clear from testimony before a Senate committee that Congress must do more to rein in the schools and protect students.

For-profit colleges are typically more expensive than public colleges, which means students graduate owing more. They account for nearly half of student loan defaults, even though they enroll a little more than 10 percent of higher education students.

State prosecutors are uncovering unconscionable examples of fraud. Lisa Madigan, the attorney general of Illinois, testified this week that she had recently filed suit against a for-profit school that had saddled individual students with up to $80,000 in loans while promising employment with law enforcement agencies that do not recognize the school’s credentials as valid. Jack Conway, the attorney general of Kentucky who leads the multistate group, has identified two schools that went bankrupt, leaving students with loads of debt and worthless credits and still on the hook for those outstanding loans.

A bill introduced by Senator Richard Durbin, a Democrat of Illinois, would permit students to discharge their private student loans when they declare bankruptcy. Congress should also allow borrowers to have their private loans discharged when a school closes, preventing completion of the degree. (The federal loan program already allows this.) Lastly, Congress should require private lenders to make every effort to see whether students are eligible for affordable federal loans before trying to sell them more expensive private loans.