Growing Scrutiny of For-profit Colleges

Friday, November 12, 2010

The New York Times released an investigation on Nov. 9 reporting alleged fraudulent and deceptive practices in for-profit institutions.

Specifically, Tamar Lewin, reporter for the New York Times, took Kaplan University as one example for the growing scrutiny in for-profit higher-education schools.

According to Lewin, "investigators from the Government Accountability Office found deception or fraud at 15 for-profit colleges, including two Kaplan campuses."

To support her argument, Lewin highlights two undercover videos of Kaplan recruiters in Florida and California making dishonest statements and using deceptive practices to get students to enroll.

Lewin also reports interviews with current and former Kaplan employees who reveal that "this is the regular mind-set of Kaplan recruiters: Do whatever it takes to get the sale, to keep your job.”

Furthermore, other worrisome aspects of for-profit institutions is their source of revenue and the ultimate benefit of such education. Considering that students' financial aid mostly comes from federal government, Lewin explains that Congress has taken action into the matter:

"Kaplan and other for-profit education companies have come under
investigation from Congress, amid growing concerns that the industry leaves too many students mired in debt and with credentials that provide little help in finding jobs."

Apparently, only few students are able to pay their student-loan debt, money from the federal government which is also the main source of revenue for schools like Kaplan, the University of Phoenix and other for-profit institutions.

While it is true that for-profit colleges offer an alternative choice to traditional colleges by the use of accessible schedules and online classes, the New York Times has added a reason to held for-profit institutions questionable.

Although some think of Lewin's article as an attack to for-profit colleges, I believe awareness is the driving force behind the article. The reality is that these things happen and people should be informed with the facts.

(The complete four-page article can be found at the New York Times)


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