In case you haven’t seen it in this week’s daily papers, Garry Trudeau reports on the astounding amount of revenue for-profit colleges take in, and how attractive that might look like to non-profit administrators.
Per usual, this Doonesbury topic coincides with real news about for-profit colleges. See Why the Harkin Report on For-Profit Colleges Really Matters. Some excerpts below:
…it’s important to acknowledge the report’s true significance: it puts thousands of pages of internal company documents into the permanent record, providing crucial evidence that fraud and abuse have run rampant throughout the sector, and especially at some of the country’s largest for-profit college companies.
Over the last decade, both publicly-traded and private-equity owned for-profit higher education companies have come under scrutiny from federal and state regulators, and have faced numerous lawsuits by former employees, students, and shareholders over allegations that they engaged in misleading recruitment and admissions tactics to inflate their enrollment numbers. Many of these companies have been accused of routinely recruiting and enrolling unqualified student and sticking them with huge amounts of debt for training from which these individuals were unlikely to benefit.
Yet, time and again, these actions have ended in settlements, in which the companies agree to pay a fine but do not admit to any wrongdoing. What’s more, as part of the terms of these agreements, evidence of abuses that has been unearthed is put under seal, hidden permanently from public view. (For examples, see here, here, here, and here.)
Trudeau cites $32 billion in taxpayer money going to these ‘failure-factories.’ Here’s the NYT article, which provides that number as well as the average $7 million paycheck for the CEOs: Harkin Report Condemns For-Profit Colleges.
The Apollo Group, which operates the University of Phoenix, the largest for-profit college, got $1.2 billion in Pell grants in 2010-11, up from $24 million a decade earlier. Apollo got $210 million more in benefits under the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill. And yet two-thirds of Apollo’s associate-degree students leave before earning their degree.
Meanwhile, an associate degree or professional certificate program costs about four times as much as those through community colleges or public universities.
The most expensive college education: where you leave with debt and no degree.