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Reeling in For-Profit Colleges & loans - about time

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Reeling in For-Profit Colleges & loans - about time

Postby Charles » Sun Jun 12, 2011 4:22 pm

This is a huge problem in the American education system and is breaking the backs and stealing the future from many students who trust their schools to provide a solid education.

Glad to see some pressure for relief is finally being brought about...

.................



For-profit colleges slapped with tighter rules over student loans

Schools accused of encouraging huge debts; critics want stronger crackdown

Anna Meer of Waukesha, Wis., dropped out of college last year because she was convinced she would never be able to repay her crushing college loans.

"It added up to $30,000 to go there for one year," Meer, 23, said of Westwood College, a for-profit online institution where she had hoped to earn a degree in criminal justice so she could pursue a career in law enforcement.

Meer contends that Westwood, which is based in Denver, lured her into enrolling with promises of easy employment after graduation and pressured her to take on huge federally backed loans. Now she's back home with her young daughter, no degree and a grudge.

"They were taking advantage of the fact that I was young," said Meer, who joined 18 other Wisconsin students in a lawsuit last year seeking repayment of all tuition and fees they rang up at Westwood. The case against Westwood and its parent company, Alta College Inc. of Denver, was moved from U.S. District Court in Madison, Wis., to a state court in April.

In a statement, Westwood said it was "proud of the hard work by our 40,000 students and graduates, many of whom are working at businesses throughout Wisconsin." It accused lawyers for the plaintiffs of "depreciating the quality education Westwood provides and the accomplishments of tens of thousands of satisfied students and graduates."

The case is one of several dozen that have been brought against Westwood and other for-profit colleges, many by former students who say unscrupulous recruiters advised them to run up huge debts — which they're saddled with for life because federal law doesn't allow them to be discharged through bankruptcy. (In 2009, Alta settled a similar lawsuit in Texas for $7 million.)

Citing extensive data that it said substantiated such allegations, the U.S. Department of Education issued tougher rules this month regulating for-profit colleges, whose students make up about 12 percent of all U.S. college students but represent 46 percent of all student loans in default, it said.

"It is seriously troubling that companies would find it acceptable to make these loans with the knowledge that such a high percentage of their students will be unable to repay them," Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, said last week at a hearing of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, of which he is chairman.

92 percent of students at for-profit institutions borrow to finance their tuition, compared to 59 percent at four-year, private, non-profit schools and 46 percent at four-year public schools.

The proportion of those loans that are federally issued or federally guaranteed is approaching 90 percent, representing $18 billion a year.

Students at for-profit colleges are nearly twice as likely to be unemployed upon graduation as graduates of other types of schools.

"There reaches a point where the education provided does not match the cost of the debt," Harkin said.

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