THE DISPATCH: Why the government let many trade schools become diploma mills
Career College Central Summary:
How did trade schools go from being mom-and-pop shops that trained mechanics and hair stylists to making billions on Wall Street? And if the industry is as predatory as the Education Department and many lawmakers suggest, why didn't they stop it?
In 1990, there wasn't a single publicly traded college. Now, there are more than a dozen with most of them being investigated by state and federal regulators for fraud or deceptive business practices. Among the allegations is that many of these schools enrolled unqualified students, taught bogus coursework, and encouraged prospective students to lie on financial aid forms so they could access federal dollars.
Several consumer advocates interviewed by The Associated Press point to 2002 as the beginning of a dangerous rise of for-profit colleges. That's when an Education Department memo written under President George W. Bush suggested colleges wouldn't be severely penalized if they compensated college recruiters for getting students in the door. The memo became a tacit endorsement for the kinds of high-pressured sales tactics that emerged.
The next big change, they say, came in 2006, when Congress passed legislation backed by the Bush administration that erased a requirement that colleges deliver at least half their courses on a campus.
The top regulator on higher education at the Education Department during this time was Sally Stroup, now general counsel for the for-profit's chief lobbying arm, the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities.
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