The Government Accounting Office released its report today, GAO Report For Profit Colleges (pdf), highlighting a number of abuses by for-profit trade schools. The GAO engaged in undercover testing to ferret out the fraud and abuse in for-profit admissions and lending. Pretty scary stuff.
The GAO Report notes that approximately 2,000 for-profit colleges received federal funds of $24 billion in the 2008-2009 school year. At all 15 of the for-profit schools surveyed by GAO, admissions representatives made deceptive and questionable statements about graduation, employment and financial aid.
I’ve been laboring in a trade school class action against Career Education Corp. and Western Culinary Institute, which is now known as Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Portland. I’m not particularly surprised by the GAO findings. Maybe the GAO report will spur Congress to take a hard look at these issues. That would be a good thing because we have sentenced a generation of kids to a lifetime of debt.
My view is that the current crisis stems from a nasty mix of deregulation and privatization. Give for-profit schools nearly boundless access to federal money. At the same time, do not regulate their conduct. Those were the first steps to sentencing a generation to a lifetime of debt.
Question: Will we be able to fix this thing, or are we just content to continue fiddling while Rome burns?