College Degrees: Congress Needs To Reform For-Profit Colleges

Getting a college degree is becoming even harder due to the recession and rising costs of higher education. Getting an education is the advice that many experts give to anyone struggling in our country, a suggestion that many people, including poor and laid-off workers have taken, signing up to attend for-profit colleges.

This advice may not be the best thing for us, however, because many of those students never end up getting a degree, while the colleges they enrolled in appear to be more interested in money than helping students graduate, reports PennLive.

The revelation comes from a scathing Senate committee reports about for-profit colleges that was released recently. It paints a picture in 5,000 pages of an industry that is dependent on government grants and loans to undergrad students, which ends up leaving students in debt and, in many cases, without a college degree.

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions worked on the report for two years, researching the ins and outs of the for-profit school business. They found that higher-education companies received federal funding through student loans that equaled $32 billion in the 2009-2010 school year, up from a small $5 billion 10 years ago.

The report discovered that the top 30 profit-making schools spent just 18 percent of their funds on instruction and a massive 42 percent on marketing and profits. Truth-Out reports that Senator Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat and the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee stated:

“In this report, you will find overwhelming documentation of exorbitant tuition, aggressive recruiting practices, abysmal student outcomes, taxpayer dollars spent on marketing and pocketed as profit, and regulatory evasion and manipulation. These practices are not the exception — they are the norm. They are systemic throughout the industry, with very few individual exceptions.”

Penn Live’s Patriot-News Editorial Board suggests that:

“Congress must press for new regulations. It should set a limit on how much government assistance goes to for-profit schools. There also should be a ban on the use of taxpayer dollars for the colleges’ marketing campaigns. In addition, the federal education department should put schools that have the highest rates of students enrolling but not receiving diplomas on the equivalent of probation.”

Do you think that for-profit schools should be more tightly regulated, so that more students who attend will actually end up with a college degree?

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