Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Doug Tice tries to pull a fast one

Yesterday’s Strib had an op-ed, undoubtedly carefully chosen by public school education hater Doug Tice, and which was carried under a hed he probably wrote: For-profit education isn't the enemy. Hell it ain’t, Doug.

The op-ed was reprinted from The Economist. Well, yes, says the Economist, dodgy things do happen in the for-profit sector:

Yet recent government reports suggest that some of these colleges have a troublingly familiar business model: flogging a low-grade product to people who are paying with subsidized government loans. The Department of Education reported that most students at many of these universities were defaulting on their loans.

Similarly, an investigation by the Government Accountability Office found that even leading for-profit colleges such as Kaplan and the University of Phoenix had engaged in dodgy practices to recruit students and encourage them to borrow large sums to pay for their courses.

But, says the Economist, we mustn’t allow ourselves to be distracted from what is really at stake:

The principle? Concentrate on the quality of the education, not the ownership. All sorts of colleges seem to have been guilty of shabby marketing. They should be treated the same.

Why yes, we hear about the shysters at the University of Minnesota admissions office all the time! Not to mention MNSCU and those sly marketers at places like St. Olaf or Hamline. Complete dens of inequity. That’s silly, obviously, and there’s been darn little reporting of a liberal arts college recruiter out beating the bushes to round out this year’s class of English majors.

But let’s focus on quality for a moment. One way that’s useful is to see if the students are able to earn enough money to pay for their education. Seems fair, doesn’t it? Well, if you’ve been reading Aaron’s posts on for-profit colleges, you know a much larger percentage of them don’t, based on student loan default rates.

Here’s part of a response Aaron left to a comment by a for-profit educator:

There's no way that 2 year programs in business or law enforcement that charge over 14,000 dollars a year are affordable on the wages of the careers that they are trained for. That's why the student loan default rate is so much higher for for profit college students compared to public higher education students. Important information about cost is largely concealed from students and the public. For edification, go to the Minnesota School of Business website http://www.msbcollege.edu/ and try to find out how much tuition costs per semester. Go ahead, look for it. Now go to Century College's website http://www.century.edu/ and click on the "Future Students" tab. See if you can find out how much tuition is.

Part of the reason for this is the fact that, again as Aaron points out in the same comment:

However, what we know from looking at the 10-K forms of Corinthian Colleges, Career Education Corp., and the Apollo Group is that marketing and recruitment are at least 1/4 of the expense of operating a for-profit college. If MnSCU schools spent 1 in 4 dollars on advertising for students, there would be a revolt.

And that doesn’t include the profit, either.

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