A number of years back, in my hometown (where I lived from the time I was 12 until after I graduated high school, and then again for several years when I was in my 30s) there was a locally-owned business college that had been in business since the 1930s. It was a highly regarded institution that turned out successful "lower rung" skilled workers, such as secretaries (remember them?), bookkeepers and other "clerical" types. The school was relatively inexpensive and its graduates were actually in demand at local businesses.
Then, in the late 1970s a ton of federal money became available for student loans for individuals attending private vocational schools, and an enterprising dick who worked for the Employment Security Department (where I was employed) suddenly realized the potential cash cow that was going unmilked, quit Employment Security, bought the business college, changed its modest location to some prime-time downtown real estate, and started a massive and misleading direct-marketing advertising campaign to lure potential students into signing up.
After all, it was a time of heavy unemployment, stagflation and economic stress. Why not attend a business school, since it was "free" (free if you discounted the fact that you went deeply into debt to attend) and get some skills?
The school had shills -- barkers, really, paid by the number of students they enrolled -- who stood outside the Employment Security Department office, snagging folks who had just signed up for Unemployment Insurance, weaving a tissue of fancy big-buck promises surrounded by an invisible bodyguard of lies, to get them to enroll in the school. They found even more fertile soil outside the local Welfare Office.
The school signed up way more individuals than it could possibly serve, knowing that a large percentage of them were from a woefully undereducated low income population, who simply did not have the self-discipline, the work ethic and the study skills necessary to succeed.
New classes began every week, and by the end of the second week, you could not get any of your money back if you dropped out. And it generally took three weeks for the students who were not going to make it to realize that, and finally quit in frustration and despair.
Great! That frees up a space for a new sucker and the school pockets the tuition, leaving the poor erstwhile students saddled with a lifetime of horrendous debt.
And the good reputation that the school had enjoyed with the local businesses? Forget about it. It went the way of the dinosaurs and the dodo birds.
This went on for years -- when I was working there I always counseled the unemployed to avoid the fuckers out on the sidewalk like the plague -- and it is still going on. If not in my home town (I moved away nearly 30 years ago, so I don't know for sure), then in thousands of other towns across the country.
Now something called the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities is suing the US Department of Education:
The Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities on Friday filed suit against the US Department of Education in federal court seeking to overturn three regulations promulgated by the department. The challenged rules are a part of the DOE's final regulations adopted in October. One rule challenged by the suit would stop deceptive advertising by schools. Another bars recruiters from being paid based on how many students they enroll. A third specifies minimum steps a state must take to authorize post-secondary programs that participate in federal student aid programs. [Emphasis added]Seems like a reasonable set of rules to me. Which, I guess, is why they are suing...
. . .
The new regulations are a part of a larger federal crackdown on for-profit schools that are accused of graduating poorly educated students with high student-loan debt. A report released by the US Government Accountability Office accused for-profit colleges of promoting fraudulent practices so their students could acquire federal aid, exaggerating potential salary after graduation and failing to provide clear information about costs and duration of programs. Additionally, a 2009 GAO report found that for-profit college students were more likely to default on federal student loans than were students from other colleges.
Greedy fuckpig bastards. They need to be dropkicked into the dustbin of history.
[HT to Dusty at It's My Right to be Left of the Center for the story]