August 30, 2014
I’m not a proponent of lots of government regulation. In fact, whenever I hear the words “I’m from the government and I’m here to help”, I immediately run. However, after researching some of the malarkey going on in the “For Profit” college category, I’m beginning to think that a good, government sponsored, butt kicking might be in order.
What is a For Profit College? You probably know them well, but by their heavily marketed names such as University of Phoenix, DeVry University or ITT Technical. These schools bombard the television airwaves with spots touting that you can find a job, a career and a great life by getting one of their degrees. Dig a little deeper and you find the problems. For profit colleges are very expensive, especially when compared to a local, non-profit community college. And, as many a for profit grad have discovered, a for profit degree often leaves a person in huge debt with no job prospects. Even more troubling is the for profit college mega-aggressive marketing strategy that targets low-income and veteran consumers. And similar to the payday loan industry that I’ve written about previously, for profit colleges also appear to be harvesting huge gains at the expense of people who are already experiencing great pain and challenge in their lives. This last fact is what makes my blood boil.
Consumer Team Investigates For Profit Colleges: I interviewed Consumer’s Union attorney Suzanne Martindale for my consumer advocacy radio program The Consumer Team. The interview will be broadcast on Saturday, August 30, 2014. Martindale, who is on the front lines of fighting for increased scrutiny of for profit colleges, voiced concern about Wall Street’s involvement in the for profit college industry. That’s right, a number of these colleges are public companies. As Martindale shared in our interview, the for profit college industry is currently under fire from a number of angles. The Securities and Exchange Commission and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are both investigating the category, as are the attorneys general from 30 different states.
Buyer Beware: In spite of my comments above regarding government regulation of this business category, I believe that the marketplace is generally better served by an informed consumer who votes with their feet. Anyone considering attending a for profit college needs to do additional research. Indeed, one doesn’t have to do much digging to find serious dirt. And, compliments of Ms. Martindale, the links below provide some valuable facts.
CEO – The Consumer Team
Editor’s Note: The Consumer Team talk radio program is broadcast Saturdays from 5-7PM on CBS Radio’s 1080 KRLD in Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas. Pete Thomson has been working in consumer advocacy and investigative journalism for over 10 years. Thomson is President/CEO of McQ Media, a Dallas-based advertising and marketing firm that promotes consumer and business advocacy.