Lion of the Blogosphere

Interesting lawsuit against for-profit college

Former employees of the Premier Education Group, a company operating for-profit colleges, have filed a whistleblower lawsuit under the federal False Claims Act.

According to the NY Times article:

The suit contends that while charging more than $10,000 for programs lasting less than a year, school officials routinely misled students about their career prospects, and falsified records to enroll them and keep them enrolled, so that government grant and loan dollars would keep flowing.

. . .

The former employees’ federal suit also charges that the school enrolled people who should not have been in its programs — like a student enrolled for massage therapy, though he had been convicted of a sex crime, which would prevent him from being licensed. They say the schools enrolled students who had not graduated from high school, though their programs required it, including some who presented diplomas from known fraudulent “diploma mills.”

Will the truth come out?

And ponder this:

For-profit schools also spend heavily on advertising, their students are far more likely to borrow money to pay for tuition, and those who borrow rack up more debt and are more likely to default.
Students at for-profit schools often do not realize that cheaper alternatives exist through public community colleges and trade schools. A study published this month found that the majority of people who had attended for-profit colleges and trade schools did not understand the distinction, learned of their schools through advertising and did not consider any other schools.

So we see that (1) a large percent of the tuition paid by the students (or paid by the federal government in the form of student aid) goes to cover the cost of advertising; and (2) the majority of students attending for-profit colleges don’t even realize they are crappy for-profit schools, and don’t know that community college will provide education for a lot less money because the community colleges don’t advertise.

While libertarians will defend these crappy schools, the reality is that they create no value. They prey on people who are too stupid to realize that they are being ripped off, and they wouldn’t even have a profitable business model if it were not for government aid.

Sisyphean writes in a comment:

It’s the PT Barnum school of sticking it to the suckers. What’s more American than that? It’s not like smarter people have any obligation to protect the fools in the middle of the bell curve. Though if people were wise as well as smart they might understand that the suckers only suffer so long before they re-purpose their pitchforks. But hey, those days are a long way off as long as people can still eat pizza and watch honey boo boo… right?

I disagree with both points.

(1) Because of the modern welfare state, the taxpayers wind up paying for the suckers who get ripped off, so it’s in our self-interest to prevent them from being ripped off. I would also point out that the relatively recent laws that prevent student loans from being discharged in bankruptcy adds to the problem. Prior to such laws, the suckers wouldn’t be able to dig themselves into a hole because they could escape via bankruptcy, and no one would lend them any money anyway because they’d know that it probably would never be paid back. Federal guarantees of student loans makes the whole thing possible.

(2) There’s no one to organize the serfs into a pitchfork-wielding army because all the smarter serfs have been absorbed into the middle class. This is the same reason why unions are a lot less powerful these days. The smart people who used to organize people into joining unions are no longer around in the low-wage blue collar jobs, or if they are they buy into the dream that they will move up any day now so they don’t have a long-term interest in fighting for a social class they assume they are going to leave behind.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

February 20, 2014 at 9:53 am

Posted in Education

84 Responses

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  1. It’s the PT Barnum school of sticking it to the suckers. What’s more American than that? It’s not like smarter people have any obligation to protect the fools in the middle of the bell curve. Though if people were wise as well as smart they might understand that the suckers only suffer so long before they re-purpose their pitchforks. But hey, those days are a long way off as long as people can still eat pizza and watch honey boo boo… right?


    February 20, 2014 at 10:11 am

  2. Yea… I’m sick and tired of social-cons demanding “private” anything and everything while simultaneously demanding that the government back up these same privates, like we saw with the “too big too fail” NYC financial sector scam in 2008.

    If the government didn’t back these crappy private information consumables, they clearly aren’t quality educational products, they wouldn’t last long because people would actually have to privately finance their consumption of said crap. That creates the necessary incentive of actually having to research these information consumable products before purchasing them, like everything else. At the price they are asking, I doubt these products will would last long… You know, the market would privately regulate.

    The reason this never happens is because the left and right are both heavily invested in this system. The right will doll out loans as long as they are backed up by the left’s bureaucrats who benefit from creating the loans via “educational” programs. The public agrees with this system too because they think it’s “education”!

    ancestor of scandanavia's dregs

    February 20, 2014 at 10:19 am

  3. Lion, try getting a value transference job with a well known company in NYC, with a diploma from a no-frills school. The chances are much slimmer if you graduated from a lower tier instiution.

    Some companies who never hired Ivy and top tier grads in the past, are now hiring them almost exclusively, because the job market sucks for all grads, including Harvard folks, and they need to weed out from the oversatutration.


    February 20, 2014 at 10:35 am

  4. If the advertising moves them from a cheap school to an expensive school, then it isn’t creating value. But if the students were never going to consider the cheap school, its existence is irrelevant. The advertising is creating the value of knowing that it is possible to get a massage education. (Assuming that the education is actually valuable. If the school is lying about career placement, that’s a reason to be suspicious. But if the expensive school is worse than the cheap school or the cheap school is useless, that’s the problem, not advertising.)

    Douglas Knight

    February 20, 2014 at 11:45 am

  5. Sorry, can’t imagine serious Libertarians supporting nominally ‘private’ for-profit schools that are based on coerced government support.

    The typical recent scandal with the Art Institutes where they were run by regulators to line their pockets can’t be blamed on the Libs. It’s exactly what they attack.


    February 20, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    • Less sophisticated libertarians generally say, “Rah rah rah! Profits are good! For-profit schools wouldn’t be making any profits if they weren’t doing anything good.”

      More sophisticated libertarians say that all higher education has problems and for-profit colleges aren’t any worse, they are just picked on more by liberals.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      February 20, 2014 at 12:42 pm

      • I guess I’m more sophisticated then, because that was what I was going to say. What’s with this arbitrary distinction between private and non-profit? Isn’t it just to keep a solid Democrat base of support out of the noose? If we are going to require schools to be good investments for their students + taxpayers, shouldn’t these rules be applied to all?

        February 20, 2014 at 2:38 pm

      • The drive for profit causes the for-profit schools to become crappy rip-offs based around deceptive advertising and accepting anyone who can qualify for federal student aid regardless of their ability to learn.

        It’s true that non-profit-schools have stakeholders who want their schools to have more money and more students, but it’s a lot more muted, and they usually have other mandates as well such as to keep tuition low if they are public schools, and to improve the quality of the student body by being selective in who they admit.

        Non-profit schools may even have some stakeholders who think that that purpose of the school is to provide quality education! Such stakeholders are completely absent at the for-profit schools.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        February 20, 2014 at 2:43 pm

      • For profit schools have an aurora of status and quality. Any learning institution run by the gov’t/public is of course shoddy, for the most part. Not to mention, employers value graduates from private schools more.

        Most traditional colleges/universities that we categorize as for profit, are non-profit in their books. .Edu is non-profit. Unless you want to berate proletech schools such as DeVry.


        February 20, 2014 at 3:42 pm

      • You’re creating a caricature here. Most libertarians would say “No government guaranteed loans”, and, to an extent, they have a point. Take away government grants and loans, and the for-profit schools dry up.
        But so do a lot of the public and private, not-for-profit schools.
        A solution, IMO, would have the schools assume some of the risk of defaulted loans (~10%). You know that schools will be more selective in the students they admit, and the programs that they run. But right now, they don’t care. I work at a University (former CC), and nobody has any interest in default rates. They don’t care where they occur, as long as our default rates are below the threshold that the Feds have set.

        Half Canadian

        February 20, 2014 at 4:48 pm

      • I agree that schools are the best judges of whether the students they admit will be able to find work after they graduate, so they should be held partially liable for the failure of their students to repay their debts.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        February 20, 2014 at 8:37 pm

      • satanist, i mean sisyphean, refers to “the fools in the middle of the bell curve” and lion says that, “all the smarter serfs have been absorbed into the middle class.” so in order to be in the middle now requires one be at the right hand of the bell curve?

        the PT Barnum stuff is more common than ever…and the ultimate reason is that neo-liberals cannot understand that 10% of the population of the developed world does all the work and 10% is all that’s required.

        jorge videla

        February 20, 2014 at 6:50 pm

      • Student loans can’t be cutback. They’ve become a sort of middle class entitlement. The better strategy is to break 4 year colleges’ monopoly power over college credits with state certified online classes. This election year, when you’ve finished yelling at your Republican candidate over amnesty, also demand they force colleges to accept online classes for credit and make student loans dischargeable in bankruptcy court.

        The Undiscovered Jew

        February 20, 2014 at 9:37 pm

      • Nah. L/libertarians are for voluntary alternatives, not profits per se. You of course have some libertarians who focus on what they like about the overall philosophy, but saying they all agree on one implementation is wrong. That’s like looking at a computer user who likes Excel and generalizing about all users.


        February 20, 2014 at 11:10 pm

      • jorges

        “sisyphean, refers to “the fools in the middle of the bell curve” and lion says that, “all the smarter serfs have been absorbed into the middle class.” so in order to be in the middle now requires one be at the right hand of the bell curve?”

        Most people from the middle of the bell curve are working class not middle class. Most middle class are probably 110+.


        February 21, 2014 at 2:26 am

      • only the top third, at best, are in the middle class

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        February 21, 2014 at 7:45 am

    • “For profit schools have an aurora of status and quality. Any learning institution run by the gov’t/public is of course shoddy, for the most part. Not to mention, employers value graduates from private schools more.

      Most traditional colleges/universities that we categorize as for profit, are non-profit in their books. .Edu is non-profit. Unless you want to berate proletech schools such as DeVry.”

      Aurora? Man, you’ve lost all credibility with me. And employers don’t care if you went to a private school (unless it’s an elite school, which makes up likely 5% of private colleges). Elite employers want elite credentials and to qualify as elite that must mean you make up a fraction of the population by definition. Most people go to non-elite schools and work for non-elite employers…there would be no distinction otherwise.


      February 20, 2014 at 8:49 pm

      • He presumably meant “aura”.


        February 20, 2014 at 11:06 pm

      • That’s what happens when you spam this site. Aura becomes “aurora”.

        I said previously that there is a growing trend of non-elite employers wanting to secure elite credentials. Firms such as Accenture, which is a lower tier McKinsey rival, now only wants to hire graduates from top schools. Certain non-profits, such as the American Red Cross, will only hire candidates with degrees from tier 1 or above, for their high paying admin staff.

        Private schools have a better-connected alumni, and HR would hire someone from their alma mater over someone from another school. I can’t imagine anyone of significance in a well respected company, who graduated from a public institution (except UC schools and Michigan), and prefers to hire public school candidates.


        February 21, 2014 at 10:40 am

  6. Those corporations who pioneered the recent explosion of pay schools must be making a killing right about now. (like Apollo Group, which is publicly traded I think)

    But I’m especially shocked by the sheer volume of pay schools in the Urban South. I’ve rarely seen ads for so many pay schools in Northern Cities. Here in Atlanta I can name a ton right off the top of my head – Ashford, Argosy, Herzing, Strayer, American Intercontinental, Phoenix, Westwood, ITT, ECPI, several “art” schools and something like 6 different DeVry Campuses.

    They’re advertised like crazy on MARTA (low income ridership).

    The only thing they seem good at is helping bad NAM students fill out the necessary paperwork to stay loan eligible and milk the government.


    February 20, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    • Yep. It’s the same in FL. Many of these for-profit diploma mills went by other names before bad publicity, law suits, and regulators pressured them into agreeing to clean up their acts.

      Many cops and firefighters attend these diploma mills at the public’s expense to earn easy degrees in Criminal Justice and Fire Science as a way to get promoted and make more money.

      E. Rekshun

      February 20, 2014 at 5:28 pm

      • The idea of securing more education to get more money, in itself is a prole endeavor.

        Further, it’s a load of BS when it comes to obtaining a Masters Degree in the field in which you are working, so one enhance their skillset. Much of the job entails rote learning and past experiences, not some future learning expectation.


        February 21, 2014 at 10:48 am

    • An instructor’s resignation e-mail at one of the schools you name: “Keep cheating the government and pretending to educate thugs.” True story.

      Of course, just because you’ve got “State” somewhere in your name doesn’t mean you’re not doing the same thing. Georgia State is on track to become an “urban” school. Clayton College, Armstrong State. All the State systems have their crap campuses.

      “Non-profits” don’t distribute dividends; they just pad their payrolls. There is no justification for State involvement with the education of legal adults. The whole structure needs smashing.

      The Anti-Gnostic

      February 21, 2014 at 8:54 am

      • If people need college degrees, then I don’t see why free public education should end at the 12th grade. And college freshman are only partially adults, because they are not considered mature enough to drink beer.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        February 21, 2014 at 9:05 am

      • If you need a college degree, then you and whatever family and friends you can convince should pay for it. That’s how young couples acquire houses, appliances and infant car seats which they need as well.

        You’ve touched on something else here, and that’s the disturbing social engineering which is extending neoteny into the age-20’s.

        The Anti-Gnostic

        February 21, 2014 at 9:17 am

      • So why doesn’t that apply to high school?

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        February 21, 2014 at 10:26 am

      • So why doesn’t that apply to high school?

        I’m not convinced it should. Education in basic literacy and numeracy may be a public good but much beyond that is just transfer payments and distortions.

        The Anti-Gnostic

        February 23, 2014 at 7:00 am

  7. I work in institutional research at a public institution, and the question came up on how to objectively measure school performance.
    Traditionally, graduate and retention rates have been used, but these have been based on a cohort model that centers around the traditional college students (go to college at 18, graduate at 22-24, etc.). Very few of our students fit that model.
    I found some data about this, and you can download it at this URL:
    The proprietary schools (ie, for-profit) have huge default rates, but so do a lot of community colleges, which suggests that this is really dumb students attending college, and not just unscrupulous for-profit schools (though non-profits are just as dependent on enrollment, so they could be just as motivated to lie).
    I’d like to see a benchmark on the ACT/SAT for financial aid eligibility, and the higher the score, the more you can be awarded. Less than 16 on the ACT = 4k, 17-21 = 8k, etc. Just something to limit the damage that a gullible idiot could get themselves in.

    Half Canadian

    February 20, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    • Only the top 20% of HS graduates should be eligible for college, just as only the top 20% of bachelors should go on to master’s programs, etc. Of course, the disparate impact on NAM’s would be huge and non-NAM’s would be calling their Congressman every hour over the fact that their little snowflake would have to attend trade school.

      Formal education has become so ingrained with class, and nobody wants to think of themselves as lower class.

      The Anti-Gnostic

      February 21, 2014 at 9:00 am

      • You’re right, and I know that this is a big reason why it would never happen.
        But schools assuming a portion of a student’s defaulted student loan? I think that NAMs could go for that.
        As an added bonus, otherwise good schools that have useless degrees may notice that these degrees incur a cost on THEM, and not just on society.

        Half Canadian

        February 21, 2014 at 5:02 pm

      • While I agree that fewer people should go to college, I think your percentages are a little low; you’d only have 4% of high school graduates obtain master’s degrees, and, if this ratio continues, just eight-tenths of a percent earning PhDs. Expand them to “top half” and I’d agree.

        High school is not easy, particularly socially, which pushes a lot of smart kids’ grades down. I appreciate the fact that college is there for people who might have been in the top 20-50% of their graduating class to really begin to shine as ‘late bloomers’.

        (OB: I have a master’s and am aiming for a PhD, and am most emphatically not in the top 4% of my high school graduating class.)


        February 22, 2014 at 8:54 pm

  8. [T]he majority of people who had attended for-profit colleges and trade schools did not understand the distinction, learned of their schools through advertising and did not consider any other schools.

    I don’t buy it. I think folks intentionally choose to go to these for-profit diploma mills because the entrance requirements, work load, and grading are lax. These “students” don’t want (or can’t handle or don’t have the confidence for) the rigors of community college.

    E. Rekshun

    February 20, 2014 at 5:18 pm

  9. You should explore this idea of how the lower classes are getting “depleted” of talent, and this is further driving social dysfunction and poverty among the lower classes. Perhaps Europe is able to have more egalitarian income distribution paradoxically because of its strong class structured tradition that keeps smart people in the working class, who then become the class leaders of the working class?


    February 20, 2014 at 9:13 pm

  10. I praise you’re incessant trolling of libertarian nerds, oh Status Dark Lord.

    However, you fail to mention by far the biggest swindlers in education are 4-year public and private colleges. First of all, higher education is dysgenic. White women spend their best reproductive years getting a fluff degree that might give them an interview for an administrative position with a salary ceiling of $60K.

    Except for medicine, these “Mrs Degrees” should be over and done with in, at most, 18 months. Certainly not 4-6 years. They’re then saddled with tens of thousands of dollars of debt, further delaying when they have children. Best of all this student loan debt (90% of loans outstanding are federal) can’t be discharged in bankruptcy court.

    In this corrupt monopoly system, of course there would be some for-profit scammers emerging to offer Americans a cheaper path to a degree. But the reason even for-profit schools exist is because the extreme corruption of the “non”-profit.

    I’ll repost this:

    Another day another Lion theme has warped the mainstream’s consciousness – House legislation’s been introduced to restore federal and private student debt’s bankruptcy protections. (HR 3892)

    Two points:

    1) When you contact your cowardly Republican congressional/Gubernatorial/Senate candidate about amnesty make sure you scream about them about tuition. Tell them to support more online-ed options and this new bankruptcy bill. The sooner bill like Rubio and Lee’s gain traction the sooner the left is defeated.

    2) LOTB themes are taking over American politics. The return of Peter’s glorious fur pelt, the defeat of amnesty to focus on Obamacare, the rapidly developing fiscal counter-attack against The Cathedral’s academic pillar with online classes and student loan bankruptcy, the surrender of the GOP on the debt ceiling, job destroying robots.

    It’s not even March yet 2014 is already our most politically influential year ever!

    Bullet Points: Inside the 2014 Student Loan Borrowers’ Bill of Rights Act

    The Student Loan Borrower’s Bill of Rights Act, introduced by the Democratic Representative Frederica Wilson of Florida is the first step. The legislation would restore bankruptcy protections for students carrying both federal and private loans, and would limit the collection time to six years. The would also prevent student loan debt from being used to hurt a young person’s credit score and financial future.

    “The soaring cost of college is not only hurting students and their families; it is hurting consumer demand and, in turn, hurting our economic recovery,” Wilson said in an interview with TakePart. “I’m introducing student loan reform now because I think it can improve lives, boost Americans’ purchasing power, and help promote job creation.”

    The Undiscovered Jew

    February 20, 2014 at 9:31 pm

    • This is a good idea, but a Democrat bill such as this needs to be carefully screened so that Democrat commercial interests are actually affected.


      February 21, 2014 at 2:38 am

    • Excellent points you make, TUJ.


      February 21, 2014 at 11:01 am

    • but a Democrat bill such as this needs to be carefully screened so that Democrat commercial interests are actually affected.

      The bill reads like it does what it promises, restore dischargeability. Even if there are some loopholes, it’s a good starting point. Republicans will start introducing their own versions when they see demand for seemingly non-partisan legislation like this.

      The Undiscovered Jew

      February 22, 2014 at 8:23 am

      • The Undiscovered Jew,

        This is a very interesting line of attack against the Left. I have, however, run this idea by my right-wing friends and they seem to have brought up a legitimate objection: they don’t see how any of this will affect Left-Wing universities.

        Remember, the student loan racket is now largely dominated by the government. The government and education are allies. If student loans are dischargeable in bankruptcy, how will this actually affect the universities? The government will certainly lose the debt, but does that necessarily mean the unis will take a hit? Is the government really going to crack down on the unis by withholding funding? Are the unis really going to lose influence and stop being a gatekeeper to a middle-class life?

        In a nutshell, isn’t free education the ultimate goal of the Left so that the universities can go left-wing permanently? Isn’t this law a step in that direction?


        February 22, 2014 at 12:22 pm

  11. Exactly how do these for profit schools differ from Harvard, or my alma mater Northeastern or Ohio State? In each case students are enrolled in dubious programs that benefit mainly the school andvare funded mainly bynthe feds.

    bob sykes

    February 20, 2014 at 10:01 pm

    • Because Harvard at least is filled with future world leaders. Switch Harvard students with any for-profit school and that for-profit would become the next powerhouse university. Garbage in, garbage out: apparently, CUNY was a amazing school for 1st generation college students 50-60 years ago but we all know what happened there now.


      February 21, 2014 at 10:46 am

      • “City College” in Harlem was an amazing school. The old buildings look more like they belong at an Ivy League school then a crappy public school. Politicians lumped it into the CUNY system and ruined it by making it open admissions. That Harlem turned into a really bad neighborhood didn’t help either.

        So City College went from being the Harvard of public schools to a crappy open admission school within the CUNY system, and located in a bad neighborhood. Although it still retains a faint aura of prestige for what it used to be.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        February 21, 2014 at 11:29 am

      • It’s f*cking epic how City College kids today have to bypass Columbia University and ride the same train with its students. I’m looking forward to libtards such as de Blasio to scream bloody murder; how blacks and Hispanics are riding the 1 train with SWPLs of his alma mater, but with a longer commute situated in a crappy neighborhood.


        February 21, 2014 at 2:09 pm

      • A very good reason as to why Occupy Wall St became a total sh*t farce that fell off the cliff, was that Columbia SWPL activists, those such as de Blasio types, thought they shared a similar wavelength with NAMs who attended public schools. Ivy League students have nothing in common with their counterparts attending CUNY schools. Different racial makeup and most importantly, different socioeconomic backgrounds.


        February 21, 2014 at 2:17 pm

  12. I agree there is some need to be clear on what we’re talking about. Most non-profits are quite profit-oriented but use profits for endowments like Harvard. Some of these for-profits are technically non-profits.

    In general if you’re taking out loans for college and paying a lot, you’re at the wrong college and likely one college level above where you should be. US Colleges basically give a free ride to students who meet their intelligence/EC requirements. A large financial charge is their polite way of saying you’ve overreached. Many students insist on paying for a ‘better’ college, or any one that will accept them. Maybe it will work for them, but maybe it’s a cruel IQ test where they learn a harsh lesson in self-knowledge and respecting practical finance.

    A trend I’ve noticed is more colleges directing students into financial counseling and life-planning courses, and students being steered to get a practical AS at a low-cost community or city college first.


    February 20, 2014 at 11:20 pm

    • All of the elite colleges do not offer any merit aid (there might be some limited funding for extremely exceptional applicants). Basically, if you are middle class you are screwed in the funding question. Under 100k family income you are golden, 100k-150k you are screwed, 150k-200k becomes possible, 200k+ likely but still tough, over 300k+ extremely likely (also likely 2% of households make this much)…so clearly the system favors rich and poor, no one else.


      February 21, 2014 at 10:51 am

      • At Harvard right now (I understand a few other Ivies copied them), middle class students from anywhere in the country except SF and NYC (areas where a family making $150k+/year is really just regular middle class) are in a great position financial aid -wise.

        Tuition gets capped at 10% of family income up to $150k/year. The aid is extended all the way up into the true UMC levels, but the proportion grows after you pass the $150k/10% mark.


        February 21, 2014 at 4:37 pm

      • * Edit of my previous post — the proportion one is asked to contribute grows as you pass the 150/10 mark.


        February 21, 2014 at 4:42 pm

      • I had not realized Harvard had such a scheme, I hear Princeton and Yale have good deals as well. But, further down the ranks from Brown to Carnegie Mellon to Michigan, the endowments get smaller and amount that families have to pay goes up.

        Chris P.

        February 21, 2014 at 7:14 pm

      • I salute Harvard for opening up to the middle class like that. Back in the mid-1990s, the Ivies were charging about $30k, and my parents were informed that they were expected to put $18k of their $70k income towards my tuition, with two more kids on the way, and my father just laughed. It was State U all the way. (Though the state universities in the northeast — Rutgers, Penn State, UMass — are nothing to be embarrassed about, they’re no Harvard/Princeton.)


        February 22, 2014 at 9:01 pm

    • Rob is correct. FL has the “Bright Futures” scholarship program. It goes something like this: any high school student graduating in the top 10% (I think) of his class gets nearly a 100% 4-year scholarship to any FL state college or university (or an equivalent amount that can be used at a private (truly accredited) college within the state). Top 25% graduates get something like a 75% tuition scholarship. So, even top NAM students at a crappy NAM-infested high school (that would likely be in the lower half at a White high school) get these scholarships. I’m aware of dozens of students that went to FL universities for four (or more) years w/ $0 tuition expenses. These “Bright Futures” scholarships are funded by FL Lottery sales, but they have recently been cut back a little bit and made a bit more rigorous. Many other states, for example Georgia’s “Hope” scholarship, have a similar scheme.

      Also in FL, academically successful high school students are allowed to attend community college (now called state college) instead of high school for the last two years of high school and end up graduating from high school w/ a high school diploma and an associates degree, and can end up earning their bachelors degree by age 19 or 20.

      E. Rekshun

      February 21, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    • @Rob: Colleges basically give a free ride to students who meet their intelligence/EC requirements.

      Yep. I scored a 720 on the GMAT and the University of FL offered me a two-year 50% tuition scholarship on the 2-year MBA program. The University of GA offered me a full ride.

      E. Rekshun

      February 21, 2014 at 3:04 pm

  13. This is the downside of welfare reform. Welfare recipients are given the choice of getting a job or going to school — any school. Makes sense to pick a school that will take anyone and fire no one.

    Sheila Tone

    February 21, 2014 at 12:10 am

  14. What I can’t figure out from the article is why former employees are bringing the lawsuit. As long as they got paid, there’s no reason why they should have cared about the school’s lack of quality.



    February 21, 2014 at 8:08 am

  15. Another thought for this thread. Sisyphean is right. The pitchforks aren’t out because everybody has cable TV and adequate calories. We have so much wealth lying around, we use it to pay all our ZMP citizens to stay out of the workforce. Everybody says it can’t go on forever, but we still haven’t hit forever.

    My question is how close we came to in 2008. The theory is the Fed printing up $2-3T in nominal wealth to cover up the hole in real wealth while the real economy catches up has done the trick. The Austrians say the distortions and malinvestments are still out there, probably to show up in sovereign debt later. I don’t know.

    The Anti-Gnostic

    February 21, 2014 at 9:30 am

  16. Our American education system has become passé, because it is no longer possible for most people to achieve an upper middle class lifestyle.


    February 21, 2014 at 10:59 am

    • When did most people ever achieve an upper middle class lifestyle?


      February 21, 2014 at 11:50 am

      • From Dumbpedia:

        Sociologists Dennis Gilbert, Willam Thompson and Joseph Hickey estimate the upper middle class to constitute roughly 15% of the population. Using the 15% figure one may conclude that the American upper middle class consists, strictly in an income sense, of professionals with personal incomes in excess of $62,500, who commonly reside in households with six figure incomes.

        There are plenty of single individuals in the Northeast and the West Coast with 6 figure salaries.


        February 21, 2014 at 1:52 pm

      • Further, obtaining a college degree was a prerequisite for a six figure salary. You have a much higher chance of belonging to the upper middle class by becoming a White collar worker than a blue collar one.


        February 21, 2014 at 1:57 pm

      • 15% isn’t most people. Also, the sociologists set a low and unidimensional threshold for upper middle class. Class status is determined by more than just income.


        February 21, 2014 at 4:02 pm

      • 15% isn’t most people, but many college grads would want to become part of that percentage. As the upper middle class becomes harder to achieve, a college education becomes a moot issue for many, because high paying – well respected companies are now only looking for the cream of the crop from top tier schools, whereas others are not paying a living wage, which would be a step ahead of cost of living standards.

        Status is more than income, but money would be the de facto standard in measuring class. If you want to become stringent, and most status worshippers are, it’s a combination of income, school affiliation and family background. But to most people, money is definitely the prerequisite for the upper middle class.


        February 21, 2014 at 4:29 pm

      • Basically, with the rise of inflation or dollar devaluation, to achieve some form of decency in standard of living, being upper middle class is now the starting point for a normal life, which was the middle class of the past. A college education does not provide this path for the average person.


        February 21, 2014 at 4:38 pm

      • Did companies ever want state school English majors? I’m sure many can attest from 30-40 years ago that their BA in History did not get them a great job right out of the gate. And as I believe from the Georgetown study on degrees and salary most liberal arts majors make around ~75k near the end of their careers. So, even after a lifetime of work experience a terminal BA got you the starting salary of a Ivy league graduate (on average of course). But I can’t imagine anyone with a terminal BA in a soft subject imagined that would be the road to wealth.


        February 21, 2014 at 7:25 pm

      • Who was talking about wealth in relation to liberal arts majors? Smart and prestigious employers would exclusively hire from top tier schools. The economic recession has brought the upper middle class down to a notch, where they are the new middle class. Upper middle class would be more achievable for someone from a good school than a public school.


        February 22, 2014 at 2:16 am

      • 15% isn’t most people, but many college grads would want to become part of that percentage.

        That’s for the country overall. What percent is it when only looking at whites?

        The Undiscovered Jew

        February 22, 2014 at 2:33 pm

  17. Not to defend private for-profits, but public universities do the same thing. It’s common for, say, a regional public university of 20,000 students in any given year to have a 50% graduation rate, meaning that 10,000 students admitted every year (the vast majority with student loans) will never graduate.

    Administrators of (non-elite) public colleges would never dream of bringing their admission policies into line with reality, because it would cut their kingdoms in half. Meanwhile, state legislatures don’t dare eliminate the tens of thousands of public-employee jobs in higher education that depend on bloated enrollments.

    Here are some college graduation numbers:


    February 21, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    • Public universities, as I explained, don’t do this in as outrageous a fashion as the for-profits. The rest of your comment is more of an argument against the “everyone must go to college” mantra which is a different issue.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      February 21, 2014 at 1:42 pm

    • The difference is cost. The University of Phoenix can cost up to $15,000 per semester, so if the government is giving out student loans with 50% default rates on amounts like that it can be devastating to the taxpayer.

      State schools are a lot cheaper, and the percentage of students getting government subsidized loans is much smaller. Who cares if Johnny goes to State U and parties his way to dropping out first semester if it’s his parents paying that wasted tuition money.


      February 21, 2014 at 2:01 pm

      • No one has more interest in beating the “everyone must go to college” drum than those of us who work in higher education.

        For every Johnny who drops out in the first semester, there are five more Johnnies who spend 5-6 years taking classes at State U (paid for with borrowed money) who never graduate. It’s in the interest of State U to keep Johnny around as long as possible, because State U gets paid for every credit that Johnny takes whether he graduates or not… and he won’t.

        They’re less parasitic than for-profit schools, but public and non-profit institutions rely on the same federal student-aid money. What they do may be less outrageous, but it’s still outrageous (and happening on a massive scale).


        February 25, 2014 at 12:18 pm

  18. Ross Douthat doesn’t directly address paying people to play WoW as the demand for labor decreases, but is clearly worried about an Idiocracy-like future.


    February 21, 2014 at 1:59 pm

  19. That’s a real cockup of private not for profit / public not for profit and private for-profit schools in comments. They’re not the same things.


    February 21, 2014 at 6:08 pm

  20. For-profit colleges are just one example of companies that make most of their profits indirectly from government aid. It’s interesting to consider what % of private sector enterprises are really just one degree removed from the government teat.

    Dave Pinsen

    February 21, 2014 at 7:18 pm

  21. I’m a little late to the party…

    I occasionally take part-time work at evil, for-profit colleges in order to make ends meet. It can be a tough gig because a lot of the students are fucking airheads. Unlike community college, there’s a lot of hand-holding from the administration in order to retain students. If someone’s failing, the student will get called into an office. They’re asked if everything’s OK. “Was there a death in the family?” They’re encouraged to turn things around. It’s a wake-up call.

    Some schools demand progress reports on failing students every three weeks. They do this for a couple of reasons: 1) prevent lawsuits: “we gave you warnings.” 2) if students turn it around, then they’ll take more classes, and the school makes more money.

    In a JC — most of them, anyway — the administration doesn’t give two shits about the students. In California we don’t have enough classes for the students. Hell, many kids can’t even find parking.

    Each term… slight digression… for-profit schools are not on a semester or quarter system in order “accommodate” new students right away, and offer the theoretical prospect of graduating in three years rather than four (the reality is that these days it takes most students more than four years to graduate from real schools). Anyway, each TERM the schools will offer some themed food give away. During Thanksgiving, they typically distribute “free” pumpkin pie (it’s actually been pretty good). At one school, there’s ALWAYS “free” popcorn available. These sorts of things keep the already-obese student population relatively content. All schools make killer profits off vending machines.

    I’ve kept a journal of all the fucked up shit I’ve seen, and when I get out of this racquet I’m gonna send a letter to somebody. I remember a woman in charge of admissions at one of these places addressed the gathered faculty. It was supposed to be “straight talk” addressing rumors about how students are recruited/scammed etc. She mentioned in passing that television advertisements are no longer effective, and only work on criminal justice students (it’s well-known that the CJ majors are the most dishonest, thuggish and stupid).

    I should say not all of the students were clods. I had two pupils who were *incredibly* intelligent. They were also socially-retarded. That’s right, they were home-skooled. The girl did not get teased, but other kids regularly mocked the young man. He was tall, good looking, incredibly articulate. He was also a bit thin and even annoyed me at times (his father is a Microsoft millionaire). The girl was a hard-core Christian freak, and I heard she married a Jew who also went to the school (that surprised me because I could count the number of Jewish students I had on one finger). From what I heard, their marriage was not working out because the Jew was naturally an atheist.

    Vince, the Lionhearted

    February 21, 2014 at 8:14 pm

    • A history major from Ivy League is just as useless to most companies as one from State U. I would hire an engineering or hard science major from the state university or private STEM university over a liberal arts major from anywhere any day.


      February 23, 2014 at 7:38 am

      • By the way, I completely agree with you regarding for profit colleges. A college or university should be a provider of education, not a profit making corporation putting profit ahead of quality education. If it were up to me, federally sponsored student loans and grants would be limited to non-profit institutions.


        February 23, 2014 at 8:01 am

      • But you are only one powerless hiring manager. The people who control the best career tracks, like investment banking, hire the Ivy League liberal arts major.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        February 23, 2014 at 9:47 am

      • Huh, IBanking, the best career track?

        Investment bankers earn minimum wage in NYC. Go do the math. $250K/year divided by 4K hours/year, that’s slightly more than 60 bucks an hour. Pittance wages for a slave job that requires an Ivy League degree. When you skim the froth, Uncle Sam also wants a piece of the action and so does NYS, when it comes to taxes. Hardly a career to rave about. The same with BIGLAW.


        February 23, 2014 at 10:17 am

      • In any event, many people consider it to be a highly desirable career track, so it’s very hard to get into, and you need a Harvard/Princeton degree to have a good chance of getting into it.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        February 23, 2014 at 10:31 am

      • Lion, if you can get into investment banking with just a liberal arts degree (which is the same at Harvard as it is from Rutgers or SUNY- in the NY metro area for instance) then that tells me that field requires no hard skills as does engineering and science (since the LA degree has no professional or vocational concentration, presumably). The only reason why Ivy League is “required” for those businesses (I know a gentleman with math degrees from Stevens Institute and NYU who is a manager at a major hedge fund- his analytical ability far above a mere Harvard BA holder appropriately valued by his employer, for example) is because those companies are filled with their graduates, not because their graduates offer intrinsically more value. I enjoy being an engineer, as I like to say, engineers (and scientists) make the world. What value do soft Ivy League degree holders add? I would argue one reason our country is so messed up is because government has so many privileged Ivy League types who were never trained to, and have never solved, any real problems in their whole lives (the President included).


        February 23, 2014 at 11:15 am

      • The people who make money are not the people who create value, they are the people who transfer value.

        If you want a job that creates value, but then you get fired at 40 because you are too old to be an engineer, and you live the rest of your life in poverty, be my guest.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        February 23, 2014 at 12:53 pm

      • The people who make money are not the people who create value, they are the people who transfer value.

        Harvard selects undergrads for value transference traits, not pure brain power. Their admissions seek out future CEOs, politicians, and socialites. The engineering/STEM schools (MIT, Harvey Mudd, Carnegie, Stevens etc) are where the future value creators attend.

        The Undiscovered Jew

        February 23, 2014 at 1:06 pm

      • MIT is the world leading value creation college.

        Harvard is all value transference ‘education’.

        The Undiscovered Jew

        February 23, 2014 at 1:08 pm

      • Harvard does have an engineering school, though. We know who the main demographics are. They are not definitely the smart SWPLs going into Wall St.


        February 23, 2014 at 1:43 pm

      • Yes, this nation, built by value creators, has been destroyed by the “value transferrers”. Germany and Switzerland, the two best economies in the world today, value their engineering and science. America doesn’t and look where it is now. Heaven forbid that a place like Harvard should consider intelligence to be secondary in its admissions process.


        February 23, 2014 at 3:33 pm

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