07/06/2012 11:35 am ET

Joseph Stiglitz: For-Profit Colleges 'Exploit Those At The Bottom'

Joseph Stiglitz is not a fan of for-profit colleges.

Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate and chief economist of the World Bank, recently took to the pages of USA Today to denounce America's widening wealth gulf, and probably to get a little bit of exposure for his new book.

In the midst of a broader indictment of the U.S. education system, Stiglitz wrote that for-profit colleges "exploit those at the bottom" of society, and that they're "better at exploitation than at delivering a valuable education."

For-profit colleges, as the name suggests, are making money at a rate that public and private universities for the most part can't match. And at many such schools, there's no indication that they do an especially good job of equipping students to succeed.

Students at for-profit colleges have a tendency to wind up in debt and with no degree, and even those who graduate and enter the workforce often earn less than their peers who went to traditional universities.

Many for-profit schools seem to do a poor job of preparing their students -- who are often highly leveraged with educational loans -- to compete in the working world. The industry also has a troubling history of financially exploiting military veterans.

Maybe Nobel Prize winner is onto something.