State action against for-profit colleges

In lieu of Congress, state lawmakers should work to curb the unethical practices of for-profit colleges.

Daily Editorial Board

More than a year after the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions produced a shocking report on the manipulative and wasteful practices of the nation’s for-profit colleges, Congress has yet to take any meaningful action on the issue. And despite the bad press it received after the Senate’s investigation, for-profit colleges continue to use abhorrent recruiting practices to get students to enroll in worthless degree programs. Thankfully, a group of students has decided to take action.

Last week, Minnesota Public Radio reported that “a Minneapolis attorney has filed a consumer fraud lawsuit on behalf of five former and current students who say they were misled by Globe University / Minnesota School of Business.” The attorney is seeking class-action status for the suit.

The suit claims Globe violated Minnesota consumer-protection laws by way of false advertising, using misleading job placement and starting salary statistics, and misinformation about program accreditation. A similar suit against Globe was decided in August, in which the school was ordered to pay approximately $400,000 to Heidi Weber, a former dean who was fired after reporting the school’s unethical practices.

It is unlikely that Congress, unable to accomplish even the most fundamental tasks, will take action against the for-profit college industry. The state Legislature should therefore take it upon itself to crack down on for-profit schools in Minnesota. The state could require schools to be more upfront about their program accreditation, as well as monitor the accuracy of job-placement rates and other statistics put out by the school.

Regardless of how the pending lawsuit turns out, the Legislature must focus on ways to protect students, who far too often enroll in schools like Globe after being misled by false advertising, and leave with a worthless degree and a substantial amount of debt.