Only 22 percent of students at for-profit colleges graduate

We’ve done a number of posts about for-profit college scams, so we aren’t too surprised by the terrible graduation rates reported in a new study.

For-profit colleges graduated an average of 22 percent of their students in 2008, according to a new report from Education Trust.

That average palls in comparison to bachelor’s-seeking graduation rates at public and private non-profit colleges and universities for the same year, which averaged 55 percent and 65 percent, respectively.

The report, titled “Supbrime Opportunity” (PDF) also reveals that for-profit colleges increased their enrollment by 236 percent from 1998 to 2009.

The median debt of for-profit college graduates — $31,190 — far outpaces that of private non-profit college graduates, which stands at $17,040, and is more than triple the median debt for those from public colleges, which is $7,960.

The government has helped to create this monster with easy access to student loans for these institutions, who now have the incentive to accept as many students as possible. Then they make money regardless of whether they provide value to their students.

Fortunately, the Obama administration has proposed new rules to make it more difficult for many of these for-profit colleges to waste taxpayer dollars.

  

ABC News investigates for-profit colleges

ABC News has been investigating for-profit colleges like University of Phoenix, and they found plenty of evidence of problems similar to other for-profit college scams.

Ads for online schools are all over the Internet, plastered on billboards in subway cars and on television. The University of Phoenix, with nearly 500,000 students, is the biggest for-profit college. But some former students said they were duped into paying big bucks and going deeply in debt by slick and misleading recruiters.

“I don’t want anyone else to be sucked in,” said Melissa Dalmier, 30, of Noble, Ill.

The mother of three had big dreams to be an elementary school teacher, so when she saw ads for the University of Phoenix pop-up on her computer, she e-mailed them for more information. A few minutes later, Dalmier said she got a call from one of the school’s recruiters, who she said told her that enrolling in the associate’s degree in education program at the University of Phoenix would put her on the fast-track to reaching her dream.

“[The recruiter said] they had an agreement with Illinois State Board of Education and that as soon as I finished their program I’d be ready to start working,” she recalled.

Within 15 minutes, Dalmier was enrolled. Since she didn’t have enough money to pay for tuition, she said the recruiter helped her get federal student aid. In total, she took out about $8,000 in federally-guaranteed student loans.

But just a few months after Dalmier started, she said she learned the horrible truth: the degree program she was enrolled in would not qualify her to become a public school teacher upon graduation in Illinois.

“It was an outright lie. A bold faced lie,” she said.

ABC News did its own undercover investigation, and found the same despicable practices. Recruiters also push prospective students to load up on the student loans. Read the rest of the story and check out this video.

  

Student loan reform signed into law

President Obama has signed into law the student loan reform that was attached to the health care bill. It’s a huge triumph against bank lobbyists and a significant victory for students who have been victimized by aggressive loan techniques used by the banks that are similar to the tactics they used for credit cards. Millions of young Americans are saddled with debt with onerous interest rates and penalties.

The new law is also a victory for taxpayers who no longer have to subsidize bankers preying on students.

The new law will eliminate fees paid to private banks to act as intermediaries in providing loans to college students and use much of the nearly $68 billion in savings over 11 years to expand Pell Grants and make it easier for students to repay outstanding loans after graduating. The law also invests $2 billion in community colleges over the next four years to provide education and career training programs to workers eligible for Trade Adjustment aid.

The law will increase Pell Grant grants along with inflation in the next few years, which should raise the maximum grant to $5,975 from $5,550 by 2017, according to the White House, and it will also provide 820,000 more grants by 2011. Including money from last year’s stimulus program and regular budget increases, the White House said Mr. Obama has now doubled spending on Pell Grants.

Students who borrow money starting in July 2014 will be allowed to cap their repayments at 10 percent of their income above basic living requirements, instead of 15 percent. Moreover, if they keep up their payments, they will have any remaining debt forgiven after 20 years instead of 25 years – or after 10 years if they are in public service, such as teaching, nursing or serving in the military.

Mr. Obama portrayed the overhaul of the student loan program as a triumph over an “army of lobbyists,” singling out Sally Mae, which he said spent $3 million to stop the changes. “For almost two decades, we’ve been trying to fix a sweetheart deal in federal law that essentially gave billions of dollars to banks,” he said. He said the money “was spent padding student lenders’ pockets.”

Hopefully this will enable more Americans to chase the American Dream.

  

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