If you ran a school that failed a simple test about your school’s effectiveness, what would you do? Try to fix it? Close it down? How about hiring some corporate lobbyists to make the test easier instead? That’s what the big for-profit colleges did.
The test was called “Gainful Employment.” It judged whether students got jobs after graduating from college, and whether those jobs paid.
Who wrote the test? The U.S. Department of Education.
Why? Because every U.S. taxpayer is supporting every for-profit college through federal loans to its students. When those students can’t get jobs, they can’t pay back their loans. And half of all student-loan defaults were coming from for-profit schools. That’s a lot of taxpayer money being lost.
Enter the corporate lobbyists. By spending $16 million, for-profit colleges like Phoenix University lowered the bar on each of the Department of Education’s three questions, pushed back the date when they’d be held accountable, and redefined “passing” so that getting just one out of three questions was good enough.
And you thought 33% was an F in college?
Even after making things so easy on themselves, 5% of the colleges’ programs still “failed.” Worse, only a third of them actually satisfied all three of the watered-down requirements.
The for-profit college industry, which make billions in annual profits, has taught us that a corporate lobbyist can turn an F into an A. Do you think its struggling students can afford lobbyists of their own?