Anyone who has watched television, particularly during weekday hours, or who has taken public transportation, is familiar with the advertisements of for-profit colleges. The University of Phoenix – most of its students are actually online – ITT Technical Institute, DeVry University and others offer salvation to the unemployed or frustrated, those trying to get out of debt and those trying to change careers.
Some former students, journalists and advocates, though, say that some of the colleges treat students as cash machines, saddling them with expensive loans and failing to deliver on their educational promises.
Arne Duncan, the Secretary of Education, released a proposal that would cut off access to federal student aid for those colleges who are failing their students. A college’s performance would depend on the loan repayment rates and starting salaries of the graduates.
Currently, the industry receives $26.5 billion in federal student aid funds each year.
Duncan strove to make it clear that it was not the whole industry that the government is targeting, but only a small fraction. “We want to hit the ones at the bottom, those that simply aren’t working for students. The 5 percent would frankly be the bottom of the barrel,” he told the press.
The measure might prevent some students from getting into debt over their heads; however, it might also make it harder for laid-off workers to switch careers and get out of existing debt.