SourceFed reports on a 14 year old kid who was persuaded, by a for-profit college recruiter, to falsify documents in order to get into an online college before he was 18. The college, Ashford University, took the government aid money and gave the kid online classes. Then, when the government found out that he was actually 14 and hadn't graduated high school, they demanded their money back. From the kid, not the college.
PhoenixNewTimes.com reports more broadly on the phenomenon, which they compare to the sub-prime mortgage scandal -- it differs only in that this can't get big enough to implode the world economy.
Overall, the 15 largest for-profit colleges spend nearly $13 billion a year on recruiting and marketing.
It's a terrific business if you don't have to worry about educating students. Nearly 80 percent of them won't complete their programs within six years — almost double the failure rate at traditional colleges.
These organizations tend to charge around twice as much as a state college, and the article describes an approach that leads to a lot of students being flunked out -- not because they didn't do the work, but because the college doesn't have the resources to provide them the opportunities they need to graduate.
This kind of exploitative crap is the result of years of deregulation, and it's poisoning the future of America. That sounds dramatic, but I mean it. The institutional-scale failures of the currently dominant generation to prepare my generation to take responsibility for America seriously endanger the country's future.
That college at the top, Ashford University, should be dissolved. The government should take all their money. And after using part of it to relocate Ashford's students to real schools, then using part of the remainder to cover the costs of the dissolution, the government should recycle the rest of the money into the education system.
This should be done with every for-profit college that's preying on the weak, wounded people trying desperately to find some way to crawl up the increasingly rotting economic ladder.