THONLINE.COM: Our opinion: Government must stay tough on for-profit colleges

Career College Central Summary:

  • The for-profit institution Corinthian Colleges filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy last week after closing its campuses, leaving 16,000 students with little to show for their investment.
  • Once one of the nation's largest for-profit colleges, the California company collapsed in failure after committing a series of violations that resulted in the Department of Education suspending its access to federal financial aid. That's exactly how the company was thriving: By using predatory recruitment practices to lure low-income students, each eligible for thousands of dollars of federal aid. In the case of Corinthians, that charade ended last week.
  • One down, many more to go.
  • Abuses in the for-profit college industry are well-documented. Students are lured through attractive and aggressive marketing efforts (no doubt, you've seen the television ads) in which students are sold on the prospect of bright career and salary prospects after graduation. In many cases, the students aren't even clear on the amount of debt they'll bear — until it's too late.
  • As a result, for-profit colleges — the fastest-growing sector of higher education — have an equally rapidly growing default rate among students. The for-profit college industry has been the subject of multiple investigations, hearings and lawsuits at the federal level. Corinthians isn't an anomaly. One investigation found that 77 percent of students from another for-profit institution defaulted on their loans. The Department of Education estimates that 1,400 programs serving 840,000 students don't meet federal accountability standards and thus could receive fines.

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