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Perry Binder

Perry Binder

Posted: March 5, 2011 08:32 AM

For-Profit Colleges -- Still Partying Like It's 1999


I was dreamin' when I wrote this so sue me if I go 2 fast. Prince, 1999

So where are we in the great debate on whether to regulate for-profit colleges?

From an owner of a for-profit college:

I'm a businessman out to make a profit. Truly, I don't care about the well-being of the students.

From an owner of a for-profit college, convicted of defrauding a guaranteed student loan program:

In the proprietary school business, what you sell is 'dreams,' and so ninety-nine percent of the sales were made in...poor, black areas...at welfare offices and unemployment lines, and in housing projects. My approach...was that 'if [a prospect] could breathe, scribble his name, had a driver's license, and was over eighteen years of age,' he was qualified for [the school's] program. My tactics..., [which] were approved, and even encouraged, by the school's owners included making the down payment for the prospect (the amount of which would be reimbursed to me out of the financial aid proceeds) and...going so far as to accompany the prospect to a pawn shop in order for him to obtain enough money for it.

From a president of a for-profit college:

There is no way to escape being a slave to the quarterly report. Quality education and higher earnings are two masters. You can't serve both.

No owner or president of a for-profit college would go on record with the comments above, right? In fact, they did so twenty years ago under oath, as Congress attempted to regulate the education industry. See the transcript of the United State Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Committee on Governmental Affairs, which issued the Abuses in Federal Student Aid Programs report (May 17, 1991), chronicling unsavory trade school practices.

We've heard all of the talking points that there are a "few bad apples" in the for-profit college business, even from the United States Secretary of Education. See you in another twenty years, as we surely will table the debate on whether to further regulate for-profit colleges. (Congress Puts a Fox in Charge of the Higher Ed Henhouse)

But when I woke up this mornin' coulda sworn it was judgment day. (Prince 1999)

Perry Binder, J.D. is a legal studies professor who blogs about education issues on the Crazy Classroom blog.