Domestic, Ethics, For-Profit, Friend, Fraud, or Fishy, Legislation, Minorities, Recruitment, Regulatory, Required, Retention Rates, Student Loans, Universities & Colleges - Written by on Thursday, August 30, 2012 23:14 - 0 Comments

Heard: Village Voice Hammers For-Profit Colleges With “Barbarians In The Ivory Tower” Piece

Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Dane E via Compfight

Chris Parker from the Village Voice turns in one of the best tomes on the for-profit college industry that we have read. The title: “For-Profit Colleges Only a Con Man Could Love: Barbarians in the Ivory Tower.”

It’s full of damning facts, outrageous anecdotes and moral indignation. Reading it makes a person angry at the misfeasance and malfeasance of some of the schools mentioned… at the intentional lying, corruption and greed from the top to bottom of these administrations. Parker speaks to real people who worked in the institutions, who describe the deceit they were forced to perpetuate. He speaks to real students like an Iraq-war veteran named Chris Pantzke who ran up $26,000 in debt and spent $65,000 of GI Bill benefits without finishing a degree. Parker writes about a 14-year-old boy named Bobby Ruffin Jr. who was illegally enrolled in Ashford University, encouraged to lie to his parents about it and then stuck with a bill for $13,000 worth of federal student aid. Here are a few choice excerpts to whet your appetite. Click on the link at the bottom and set aside time to read the entire piece.


For-profit colleges like to place their alarming failure rates in charitable terms. They claim to disproportionately serve low-income students who struggle in school. But if they’re serving people of lesser means, why are they charging so much money? On average, a four-year degree from a for-profit runs twice what in-state tuition costs at a public school. When it comes to two-year programs, the disparity widens: For-profits charge three to four times the rates of their public counterparts. Yet they’ve still managed to lull the political class into believing their competition is driving down tuition.

During the Republican primary, Mitt Romney praised a major donor and co-chairman of his Florida fundraising team—Bill Heavener, owner of Full Sail University—for helping to “hold down the cost of education.” What Romney failed to mention is that a 21-month degree in video-game art at Full Sail costs more than $80,000. And that’s not unusual. A four-year bachelor’s degree in business from Indiana-based ITT Tech costs almost $89,000. That’s more than twice the in-state tuition at the more venerated Indiana University.

The government ignores the problem at the country’s peril. Total student-loan debt, now more than $1 trillion, has surpassed credit card debt. These burdens will limit students’ ability to contribute to our consumer economy for years to come. Worse, unlike an underwater mortgage, Congress has made it illegal for people to walk away from student loans they can’t pay. The debt will follow them the rest of their lives.

“This is basically a parasitic industry that is preying upon not just some of the most vulnerable members of our society, but the best of these most vulnerable members, people who listen to the rhetoric we feed them and who are actually attempting to better themselves,” Nassirian says. “This is an industry that takes people’s hopes and dreams and cashes them out.”

Via The Village Voice


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