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Entries in For-Profit (2)

Wednesday
Nov232011

GAO Report Exposes Rule-Breaking at for-Profit Colleges

Photodisc/Jack Hollingsworth/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A new report from the Government Accountability Office found several instances of rule-breaking at several for-profit colleges in the United States. Investigators who went undercover to pose as students found they could get away with blatant flouting of academic standards, such as plagiarism. Some even found they could get away with inserting photos of celebrities and politicians in lieu of written answers to essay questions.

When the investigators presented “fictitious evidence of high-school graduation -- either a home-school diploma or a diploma from a closed high school,” they were allowed to enroll in online courses at 15 commercial colleges, which were not identified in the report.

Once enrolled, the undercover students investigating the colleges engaged in “substandard academic performance,” including plagiarism, failure to attend class, failure to submit assignments and submission of incorrect assignments.

The investigation was conducted over the course of one year, from October 2010 to October 2011. Each investigator enrolled for one term. The report focused on the areas of enrollment criteria, cost, financial aid, course structure, substandard student performance, withdrawal and exit counseling.

Overall, eight of the 15 schools followed standard procedures regarding penalties for academic dishonesty, exit counseling and course grading. There were mixed results for the remaining seven schools.

At one college, “Our undercover student consistently submitted plagiarized material, such as articles clearly copied from online sources or text copied verbatim from a class textbook,” according to the report.

The first time it happened, the instructor told the student to paraphrase but gave full credit. The student continued to turn in plagiarized assignments and ultimately received a failing grade, but no action related to academic misconduct was taken.

There were also situations in which the schools and instructors followed standard policies.

At one college, a professor repeatedly tried to contact a student who logged into class but did not submit assignments or participate in discussions. When the student refused help, the professor locked the student out of the class.

The undercover investigation was done at the request of Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

Harkin’s office was closed Wednesday, but he released a statement Tuesday regarding the report, as was reported by the New York Times.

“The fact that many of the schools accepted incomplete and plagiarized work -- sometimes for full credit -- leads me to question whether for-profit college students are truly receiving the quality education they are promised to prepare them for a good job,” Harkin  said.

“Coupled with sky-high tuition costs, alarming dropout rates, poor job placement services and the many other troubling practices that we’ve uncovered in the HELP Committee’s investigation,” Harkin said, “it is obvious that Congress must step in to hold this heavily federally subsidized industry more accountable.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jun072011

Senate Dems Say Regulations on For-Profit Colleges Don't Go Far Enough

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- In a hearing on Tuesday, Senate Democrats criticized new proposed regulations on for-profit colleges for not going far enough to protect college students from taking on crippling debt.

“The answer is that for-profit colleges have distinguished themselves by asking a higher percentage of their students to borrow, more than any other sector of higher education,” Sen. Tom Harkin, chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, said.  “The difference between the subprime and the mortgage interest and this is if you got a bad house, you got a bad deal, you could walk away from it.  You can't walk away from these loans.”

At the age of 27, Eric Schmitt, a father of two from Hampton, Iowa, enrolled in Kaplan University, a for-profit college owned by the Washington Post Co., and drew thousands of dollars in loans to obtain an associate’s and bachelor’s degree.  Kaplan University told Schmitt he would be able to find a job paying $30,000 upon completion of his degree, but Schmitt never found work in his chosen field as a paralegal.

Since his graduation, Schmitt has only found temporary work, such as a janitor job which pays $10.50 an hour.  He now owes $45,000 from his education at Kaplan University.

“I feel that returning to school to get my degree has put me further away from my goals than before I started my education,” Schmitt said.  “The lifetime promise of a college degree has become a lifetime burden that I only can hope I bear alone.  The debt and the magnitude of my mistake is with me like a constant weight.  I have lied awake at night dreading what I might to do to save my family from this burden.”

Martha Kanter, undersecretary of the Department of Education, defended the proposed regulations, saying it protects students by establishing criteria for for-profit colleges to meet in order to receive federal aid. These conditions include ensuring loan payments do not exceed 12 percent of a former student’s earnings, and 35 percent of their former students are repaying their loans.

For-profit schools account for 10 percent of all higher-education students but account for 47 percent of loan defaults.  Compared to community colleges and four-year private and public institutions, a much higher proportion of students at for-profit colleges borrow money to pay for their tuition.  Ninety-six percent of students at for-profit colleges obtain loans to pay for their education compared to 13 percent at community colleges, 48 percent at four-year public and 57 percent at four year-private institutions.

No Republican senator attended the hearing, and there was not a representative for the for-profit schools on the panel, a problem lamented by Sen. Al Franken.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio