Thoughts and Musings

NY Times says, “For profit schools mislead students”…I say, “NY Times misleads the public”

Posted in - higher education & What's in my head now? on August 3rd 2010 8 Comments

The NY Times article on for profit education published today spoke of the reported findings that we will read about tomorrow when the government issues it’s investigative research on the for profit schools. As I read through the article, I was trying to find what was ‘different’ that was told at a for profit school and what is told at a State University or Public Institution. I’ve worked with both, and certainly do not ‘like’ one more than the other; however I do have an issue when 1) The Time write clearly has not done their research 2) The article is clearly one sided.

The article gives lines and lines of examples of colleges ‘misleading’ students, but it only has 2 lines that say anything positive and gives no examples:

But in some instances, the report said, the applicants were given accurate and helpful information, about likely salaries and not taking out more loans than they needed.

Furthermore, instead of singling out the for profits; has the government investigated public institutions this way? I would be interested to see a comparison study as I do not believe there will be much of a difference.

In the review below, I try and play “both sides of the coin”.

Let’s look at what the Times claims this misleading information to be:

Example 1:

” At one college in Texas, a recruiter encouraged the undercover investigator not to report $250,000 in savings, saying it was “not the government’s business.” At a Pennsylvania college, the financial representative told an undercover applicant who had reported a $250,000 inheritance that he should have answered “zero” when asked about money he had in savings — and then told him she would “correct” his form by reducing the reported assets to zero, a change she later confirmed by e-mail and voicemail.”

What the Times does not follow up with is any review of the FAFSA and what is / is not required to be filled out. It is “optional” for a student to input how much they have in savings because the FAFSA is NOT BASED on what is in savings. Hence, it is not the government’s business. The only thing done wrong here is that the recruiter spoke to the student about financial aid AT ALL.

In the second sentence, the financial representative was correct. An inheritance should not be reported as such in the savings column as it would fall under a different category on the FAFSA.

Example 2:

In addition to the colleges that encouraged fraud, all the colleges made some deceptive statements. At one certificate program in Washington, for example, the admissions representative told the undercover applicant that barbers could earn $150,000 to $250,000 a year, when the vast majority earn less than $50,000 a year

Let’s note the word, “could” in this sentence. “could earn”…not “will earn”. Granted, the recruiter should have told the student to go to the BLS and look up the stats or looked up the stats for the prospective student, but the recruiter did not site where she received this information either.

Example 3:

And at an associate degree program in Florida, the report said, a prospective student was falsely told that the college was accredited by the same organization that accredits Harvard and the University of Florida.

Again – this is a true statement by the recruiter. All of these schools ARE regionally accredited.

In these two instances that the Times sites below, the actions taken by the for profit colleges are exactly the same as would be taken at a traditional public university:

Six colleges in four states told the undercover applicants that they could not speak with financial aid representatives or find out what grants and loans they were eligible for until they completed enrollment forms agreeing to become a student and paid a small application fee.

I went to the University of Florida. I was able to fill out my FAFSA prior to admissions. I was also able to enter the school code so my FAFSA went to the right universities. I was not able to find out how much financial aid I was awarded SPECIFICALLY at the University of Florida; however like anyone else in the world, I could have called up FAFSA and asked how much financial help I would be getting. I had to pay my application fee and get my documents on file like everyone else. This way, when my FAFSA was sent through to the college, they were able to match it with an applicant (*or prospective student).

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