Study: For-Profit Colleges Put Shareholders Before Students

Heh. This Washington Post story has to walk such a thin line, considering that their Kaplan division made so much more money for them than their newspaper holdings. Almost always, there is little a for-profit college offers that you can't get at community college for a lot less money. As someone who was a recruiter at one of these money mills, take my word for it: The for-profit college that's worth the enormous amount of money you'll owe is the exception, not the rule:

A Senate committee that successfully pressed for tighter regulation of the for-profit higher education sector published a report Sunday that said the business had put shareholders before students.

As of 2009, the report said, three-quarters of students in for-profit colleges attended institutions owned either by publicly traded companies or private equity firms. It said the schools excelled at recruiting students, but not necessarily at retaining them: More than half of students at for-profit schools who enrolled in the 2008-09 academic year left without a degree, the report found. Half of all non-finishers ended their studies within four months.

The findings are in line with concerns voiced last year when the Department of Education imposed stricter rules on for-profit schools that benefit from federal student loans.

The new report is titled “For Profit Higher Education: The Failure to Safeguard the Federal Investment and Ensure Student Success.” It concludes a two-year investigation by Sen. Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat who chairs the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. Including appendices, the document totals about 800 pages.

Investigators studied operations at 30 for-profit higher education companies, including industry leaders Apollo Group, Education Management Corp., DeVry and Kaplan. Kaplan is owned by the Washington Post Co.

“We uncovered two very big problems in for-profit higher education,” Harkin said in a statement. “One, billions of taxpayer dollars are being squandered. And two, many for-profit schools are doing real, lasting harm to the students they enroll.”


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