By Professor Doom
Time and again I’ve claimed that many of our institutions of higher education, whether state, non-profit, or for-profit, are basically scams that exist only to suck students in, fleece them of their student loan money, and spit them out.
I’ve backed up my claims with extensive documentation, from community colleges run almost completely fraudulently (yes, I know there are exceptions), to for-profits run almost completely fraudulently (yes, I know there are exceptions), to non-profits run almost completely fraudulently (yes, I know there are exceptions). All fully accredited, of course.
In every case, students are being lured in, signed up for huge loans, usually for irrelevant if not outright bogus coursework, then emerge from school 4 to 6 years later with a gigantic debt and no clue how they were suckered. Although schools must promise to act with integrity and follow the law before being granted by (questionable at best) accreditation the right to suck up loan money, I’ve asserted and shown many times that administration seldom, if ever, lets integrity get in the way of those sweet, sweet, student loan checks. Admin is only slightly more careful about following the law, but not if it gets in the way of those checks.Allow me to present one more source of documentation of just how criminal our campuses are today. A recent book, College Financial Aid: Highlighting the Small Print of Student Loans makes the very credible claim that at least 40% of student borrowers either don’t receive any counseling or have no idea if they received any such counseling.
There are two issues here. The first, the one I do tend to harp on, is integrity. These kids come right out of high school, and like sheep they file on to college campus…and administration is right there, not content merely to shear the sheep, but to slaughter them. Not to put too fine a point on it, but taking advantage of the young and ignorant is not acting with integrity. It would take almost no effort for an accreditor (using a tiny part of the accreditation fees collected) to survey students after they take out their loans and ask them about that counseling. If students could not demonstrate they knew what was going on with their own student loans, then the accreditor could withdraw accreditation from the institution, and the loans annulled (as most should be)…no more victims. That would require accreditation to be legitimate, however, so this is just pure fantasy on my part, may as well move on to the reality of the other issue.
The other issue is it’s illegal to sign up students for debt without this sort of counseling. We pay college administrators huge fortunes in annual salary, 4 to 10 times as much as we pay the professors…and they can’t be bothered to follow even this basic part of the law. Well, of course not, following the law would cut into growth and those sweet student loan checks, and so, much like integrity (and academic standards, for that matter), it’s not going to happen.
It’s part of federal law that students taking on Federal debt are supposed to get counselling…but it doesn’t happen. Our institutions of higher education, many of them, have been behaving in this criminal manner for years…and yet somehow it never makes the news, and never have I seen a Poo Bah hauled away in handcuffs for this criminal behavior.
This is no surprise, as our campuses act so criminally, so often, that this latest demonstration is hardly meaningful. Let’s have a quick review about just how criminal our campuses are nowadays, in addition to this criminality.
While one can disregard my rants, or disregard the previous book, it’s worth pointing out another study:
The study also found that 28% of students with federal loans said they had no federal debt, and 14% said they didn't have any student debt at all.
Imagine, students signed up for loan money, and the money transfers into administrative loan pockets so quickly the student doesn’t even know about it. When multiple sources make more or less the same allegations, it seems like someone in authority would look into it.
Me: “Once again I see on the contact information list for my students, I have a number of students that, apparently, intend to drive 4 or more hours to, and from, my class, at least three times a week. Are you sure these students aren’t just signing up for the free Pell checks?”
Admin: “They have a right to come here.”
Me: “Can we at least tell them the course I’m teaching is a basic course offered on every other campus in the country, and suggest to them to sign up for a closer campus? Not having to drive so much would give them far more time for studying, and that would help them.”
Admin: “If they want to come here, we let them come here.”
---I really did try to see if admin cared the tiniest bit about the students. No, they don’t.
Let me also point out another source that says our campuses are often criminal operations. A “Pell Runner” is a student that signs up, usually at a cheap community college, for purposes of getting his Pell Grant “refund.” The refund is the difference between the grant, and the cost of tuition. You can score perhaps $1,000 or so every semester this way. Across the country we have Pell Runners that go from campus to campus. Administration isn’t paid enough to keep records on this.
Approximately 25% of the students in some states are Pell Runners…and once again we have the same thing being said about how our institutions “gather” students. In the community college I helped to get accredited, it was common to see classes that were clearly 40% or more Pell Runners, and when you have community colleges with 0.6% graduation rates, I again feel what I saw with my own eyeballs was pretty common.
Faculty, of course, can do nothing about the fraudsters. Our “success” as faculty is measured by retention, keeping students on the roster. If we try to get rid of fraudsters, it cuts into our retention numbers…and we get fired.
Anyone who dares to look can see immense fraud going on in many of our institutions. All too often the finger of blame is pointed at faculty. I concede we as faculty do share some of the blame, but we sure pay all the price, with minimal job security and often sub-minimum wages. Meanwhile, the administrators who (at least nowadays) hold most of the blame for the fraud…just get paid more and more to hurt our kids, and no matter how explosively the fraud is revealed, they never pay a price at all.