It seems our news story this week on for-profit colleges struck a nerve. We've gotten a number of email responses from people who say they, like those in the story, feel they were misled or cheated by America's for-profit education industry.
They include Julio Lopez, who says he worked for 13 years at a number of national and local career schools, only to quit recently "because I basically got fed up with all the unethical behavior."
Lopez asked us not to name his former employers, because of agreements he signed upon leaving.
At the heart of the issue is the huge firehose of government financial aid that's available to students at these colleges, and the sales-heavy methods schools use to get their hands on all that easy cash. Senator Tom Harkin has released an incriminating report on these practices, but to date, Congress has failed to enact meaningful reform.
"These schools are basically stealing from students and from the government," says Lopez, whose last job was at a college in Missouri. "The root of career education is really to help underprivileged students, but they got into the hands of greedy people who just [wanted] to make money from them."
Lopez says the final straw that made him quit after 13 years was an enforced disregard for credentials at his last employer. He says he took a job as chief academic officer, and found out that many of the faculty weren't qualified. He says he presented this to his supervisor, who told him to make the problem "go away" because the teachers had been working there for ten years.
While the Pulp hasn't verified these claims, Lopez is not alone in his complaints. Teida Ruiz, a former student at Everest University, emailed to say that she signed up for loans as a dependent of her father, and now they are on the hook for money they can't repay, and nobody will hire her. She is looking for class action lawsuits now; while the AG has taken statements and still has an open investigation of that school, when or how it will be settled is unclear.
Kurt Kelley wrote in, saying he's long been telling people of the problems with for-profit schools: "There are laws protecting seniors from phony investment scams. There are lemon laws protecting consumers from being stuck with a faulty new car. Why arent there laws to protect vulnerable students from shoddy worthless educations?"
The moral: do your homework and know what you're signing up for when you give up tens of thousands of dollars for anything. And yes, even students loans are going to seem like real cash years down the line. As the comments have shown, getting a job after one of these educations is far from a sure thing.