Facebook status rant, March 14, 2014

I made the mistake of starting to scan a Department of Education document on gainful employment rulemaking (related to for-profit colleges in particular), just released, to see if I can get the drop on the higher-ed policy nerds on my Twitter feed.

I got to page 47 before my jaw hit the floor, and I haven’t been able to pick it up. Check this out:

Our analysis of the D/E rates component of the 2012 GE informational rates reveals these poor outcomes among some GE programs. For example, 27 percent of GE programs evaluated produced graduates with average annual earnings below those of a full-time worker earning no more than the Federal minimum wage ($15,080). Sixty-four percent of GE programs evaluated produced graduates with average annual earnings less than the earnings of individuals who have not obtained a high school diploma ($24,492). Of programs with average earnings below those of a high school dropout, approximately 24 percent of former students defaulted on their Federal student loans within the first three years of entering repayment.

Okay, now in English:

I know that there are any number of ways you can define “gainful employment programs” and that there are any number of devils that can be found in details in a federal report. But for ANY possible definition of such things, the fact that over half of the possible programs don’t do any better than a wretched high school education in actually getting their students paid – and that those programs base their entire business model off of federal funds – should horrify everyone concerned.

This is where the screaming about for-profit colleges comes from, folks.

(Be aware: there’s naming and shaming in this document, too. Long and probably not good for casual reading, but I like to cite my sources.)