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For-Profit Colleges Under Fire In Massachusetts

In this 2009 file photo, a University of Phoenix billboard is shown in Chandler, Ariz.  (AP)

In this 2009 file photo, a University of Phoenix billboard is shown in Chandler, Ariz. (AP)

For-profit colleges have been under fire by both federal and state lawmakers for questionable recruiting practices and high loan default rates among students. Critics say the schools over promise training and jobs to vulnerable populations.

Mass. Attorney General Martha Coakley joined the U.S Department of Justice and several other states in a private lawsuit that claims the Education Management Corporation — the country’s second largest for-profit college chain — of illegal recruiting practices.

Coakley is also investigating several other for-profit schools in the state, including the Kaplan Career Institute, owned by the Washington Post Company.

Supporters say for-profits schools allow many people access to training and education that would otherwise be locked out of higher education and the job market.


  • Deanne Loonin, attorney, National Consumer Law Center
  • Harris Miller, president, Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities

Other stories from this show:

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  • Anonymous

    What’s interesting is how the guy representing the for profit colleges keeps changing the subject and acting as if his sector is somehow the victim. They created the mess, it’s their business model not the department of educations or the states. If there were no problems why would there be investigations? Why?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NHZO25JZG6AONOHE65YWZ62I3I HeXt

    I wish I knew about this, I would have jumped on at this.

    Those Kaplan students: most of those students are under DEFERMENT. They haven’t seen the bill yet.  So don’t know the pain yet.

    I went to Gibbs College (Career Education Corp) and the New England Institute of Art (“The Art Institutes” Education Management Corp). Both of them used the deceptive practices to recruit me. Both of them left me in debt.  Gibbs gave me the wrong degree also.  Both of them ruined my life. I have over $83,000 worth of debt because of them. I was told they had connections they don’t have. I was told they had success rates that aren’t close to it.  Most of my classmates are in worse spot than me, and I’m in a pretty bad one. The findings of the GAO matched my experience at BOTH of those schools.  If what these schools do is rare, then WOW I must be the rarest case on the planet.

    Harris Miller is cherry picking to spin it. He tries to claim his schools are the heroes of the poor. They’re no better than “section-8 slumlords”.  He is paid by these companies to spin, because they’re their funneling billions out of the government. He tries SOOOO hard to polish that turd.

    I love how he says that the EDMC case isn’t about fraud. It is about fraud. The recruiters getting involved feel guilty.

    The first caller mentioned an EDMC school, South University. I’m sure by now there’s an EDMC pattern that presents itself easy.

    Sounds like All of the callers had to do with EDMC and all of them seem to go along with EDMC’s method of operation.

    What Harris is doing is just spinning and spinning.

    Why hasn’t EDMC been kicked out of MA and kicked out of the education business? If I went into the Federal banks and just started stealing thousands and thousands I would be arrested on the spot.

    These guys do it on a regular basis using the student ‘need’ as a face and they get away with it even when the students call them out on it.

    This needs to stop. Now.

    • Steven

       “I have over $83,000 worth of debt because of them”


      They did not hold a gun to your head to make you spend $83,000.  Please take
      some accountability

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NHZO25JZG6AONOHE65YWZ62I3I HeXt

        See above.

    • Dr. Bob

      You went to Gibbs & Art Institute?    Why didn’t you go to a real college if you wanted a real education?    Gibbs gave you the wrong degree?     You mean you were in one program and earned a degree in that . ..  but your diploma says something different?    Well . . . just point out the error, and I’m sure they’ll change it.    OR: Do you mean that you were in the program and got the degree . . . but later found out that it’s not the one you should have chosen?    Well . .. that was your choice, wasn’t it?     I majored in English when I was in college (a real college, by the way).   If I later decided that I should have majored in business, well . . . I couldn’t blame the college for that.   Only a chump would do that, right?

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NHZO25JZG6AONOHE65YWZ62I3I HeXt

        I went for their visual communications: Animation program, my degree says Graphic Design.
        I wasn’t the only one they did this to.  They didn’t even give enough animation training to even get in the door anywhere.

        Honestly, I didn’t know the difference between a “real college”, I asked them to fix it in the past, but it doesn’t even matter now, the program was dated, it is obsolete and useless already.

        Both schools recruiters falsely claimed the schools had success and placements lined up that did not exist in the industry.   They told me I would only be paying about $130 a month for my program. BOTH schools told me that the loans I was signing for were FEDERAL loans from their preferred Federal lender, Sallie Mae. They falsely claimed Private student loans were Federal.

        They claimed staff members had connections that they did not have.  Most of the staff seemed to be the ones who couldn’t hang in the industry and had to take teaching  jobs instead. The GOOD teachers stuck around 1 single class and then you never saw them again.

        Both schools herded myself and others to the FASFA program and the student loans and told  us how much to fill in.

        No, they don’t hold a gun to your head but they pull you out of class, with little to no consultation financially about what you’re signing for, tell you “sign this or you can’t go back to class…” in very very very high pressure sales tactics the financial aid officers used to get you to keep signing for more.

        I did take accountability, and then I saw what these 2 companies were doing they did across the nation to other students.

        It’s systematic. This isn’t schooling, it’s exploiting the poor for government money, just like section 8 slumlords.

        Believe me, I wish I knew the difference in the schools, I’m a veteran. Under MA law I could have gone to Mass Art completely 100% free and gotten a respected degree.

        • Anonymous

           I have to say you sounded as if you were an easy mark. Gibbs is a known ripoff and if you did some research you would have found out. As for the NEIA well there is not a chance that you were told your payments would only be $130 per month for the animation program. That sounds far fetched.
          As to Mass Art, you left out one little fact. You would have had to get into Mass Art to go there.
          One more thing, you do yourself a lot disservice in credibility by making claims such as this chestnut:
          “Under MA law I could have gone to Mass Art completely 100% free and gotten a respected degree and no debt.”  This is a false statement. Unless you were given grants and or had a scholarship the chances of you going to Mass Art for free would be zero. There is no Massachusetts law that says residents go for free.  Mass Art is about 20k a year or more which means that most students will have some debt after graduating from the school. That said, I do think that the for profit schools are a bad idea that is hurting education. I also think that education in this nation is in crisis in terms of costs.
          Lesson to be learned form your experience, use your head and do some research before signing up for loans.

          • Brontonest

            Young kids without guidance are extremely easy targets. Does that make it right? You sir, are also an asshole who doesn’t see the full picture. 

          • jefe68

            I do see the full picture and I’m not supporting these institutions whatsoever. The guy in above comment claimed to be a vet. Which means he’s not a kid right out of high school. He was duped, but he let himself be fulled by Gibbs. Which has a well known reputation for being shady. As to Mass Art, well the chap was putting the cart before the horse as they say. If he was a vet he should have used his GI bill to pay for school, which is also interesting in that it comes into play for Mass Art but not the other schools. Something is not right with the story.

            Calling people victims is not the answer, and calling me names shows me that you’re not able to parse issues beyond the level of a 10th grade kid. Where did you go to school? Miss out on those critical thinking classes I suppose.

            Here’s a good rule, never go to any collage that has billboards or advertises on TV or the web. 

      • Brontonest

        I signed the papers when i was 18 without parents who cared because I wanted to go to college. They sold a lie. Good for you for making the right decision. I was naive at 18 years old and if I could go back with what I know now I wouldn’t do it. I would take it all back and do it differently. I don’t get a second chance though. For now I’ll be riding a bicycle, will never own a house or a car for as long as I’m alive. I will never get married. You sir, are an asshole who doesn’t see the full picture. 

    • guest88

       If you had gotten better grades in high school you could have went to a real college.  For profit colleges are for students who can’t get into a real school.  I know this because I’ve taught at them and it’s a joke.  What someone should do if he or she doesn’ t do well in high school is go to a two year community college and do well and then transfer to a better school.  Stay away from for profit schools. 

  • http://twitter.com/FilipinoBoston FilipinoBoston

    You only need a 4 year college degree if You want to be a lab technician, dentist,nurse or engineer. I am college grad and I work for finance in one of the major hospital in Boston.

    My co-workers are High School graduate only.  they act like in high school too.

    • adfasd

      are you stupid? Who says you need a 4 year college degree to be a dentist. You need 8 years. Go do research before posting up ignorant bs.

  • GeraldWeinand

    The CEO of EDMC is John “Jock” McKernan, the former governor of Maine, and husband of Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe. For more info please see:




  • Stford1

    I have worked at two for profit colleges both treated the students as costumers and it didn’t matter how bad they  were or how little the turned in they got their grades. 
    they would be shuffled around from teacher to teacher, till someone passed them. mangent forced or actually changed grades to keep the numbers up anytime there was a conflict between teacher and student it was the student was all ways  right.  For profits are a blatant conduit of money from the government to wall street.  I hate to say by trying to teach I probably  harmed more kids then helped.steve 

    • guest

      Steve, thank you for your comments.  I’m shocked to learn you worked in the Education sector. Your rambling, incomplete, run-on sentences is a perfect example of exactly what is wrong with “for profit” education.  I’m just hoping that you were not an English teach as I had trouble gathering any comprehension out of your comments.   

      • guest88

         …you were not an English teach as I had…
        it’s …you were not an English teacher as I had…
        People who live in glass houses should not throw stones.  This is a forum, not an English blog.  I doubt people take the time to type their stuff in a word processor and then copy and paste it into the REPLY section.   I could see if the person made several grammatical mistakes, but you’re an idiot to point this out here.

  • Guest

    I am an Admissions Representative for a for profit school, and I can tell you that we are under the microscope for the type of information that we give to our prospective students.  I consider myself to be a professional that takes a great deal of care and time trying to find the best fit for our students.  On occasion, I will recommend that the client attend a traditional college to better meet their needs.  I am proud to work for my company and, please note, we DO NOT GET PAID A COMMISSION, that is illegal! Our school serves a purpose for individuals that are seeking a career focused program.  We help our students with career placement, while in school and when they graduate.  All our stats are shown to a prospective student during the interview process. 

    • guest

      Well I work for one as an instructor and I can say this is not entirely true.
      The percentage of students who have remedial problems is very high.
      I’m constantly dealing with students who were excepted and they can hardly understand
      how to read the assignments I hand out. They have 0 organizational skills and I would say almost 40 to 50% should not be in college due to the problems they have. I know for a fact that career placement is a joke. They try, mind you, but it’s not working. For profit is a bad idea, period.

  • Llr_la

    I attended Gibbs “college” .. It’s not a school.. I would like to know if there’s a way to get rid of the debt I have.. The degree I got from there is worthless.. Any info or class lawsuit please let me know!! Llr_la@hotmail.com orliliz0908@gmail.com

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