To: U. S. Department of Education

Hold predatory career colleges accountable for abusing students and ripping off taxpayers

Hold predatory career colleges accountable for abusing students and ripping off taxpayers

Strengthen proposed regulation to protect students from predatory colleges that mislead students and leave them buried in debt.

Why is this important?

When I left the Army, I wanted to pursue a career as a video game designer. A recruiter for for-profit Gibbs College in Massachusetts, owned by Career Education Corp., told me their program would put me on a fast track to a job at a video game company, but the experience left me with poor training and a worthless degree. The paid internship they promised turned out to be an unpaid assignment doing the laundry of a wedding photographer.

So I tried again, at the Art Institutes, owned by EDMC. Again, the recruiter promised their degree would get me the video design job I wanted. But as I went forward with classes, the school kept bringing me back to the financial aid office to push me to take out more high-interest student loans. When I couldn't afford any more, I had no choice but to drop out. Now I'm unemployed with more than $85,000 in student loan debt.

It's time that predatory career colleges like ITT Tech, Everest, The Art Institutes, Argosy University, Sanford-Brown Institute, Heald College, Kaplan University, and The University of Phoenix are held accountable for abusing students and ripping off taxpayers.

Career education programs are supposed to prepare students for jobs where they can earn a living, including the ability to repay your student debt. But far too often, these schools ruin students’ lives.

The Department of Education recently proposed a rule to hold career education programs accountable. But the proposal is full of loopholes and giveaways to schools. We need a strong rule that protects students from sham colleges that leave them with overwhelming debt and dismal career prospects.

For-profit colleges have about 13 percent of US college students but account for nearly half of student loan defaults. Many of these schools get close to 90 percent of their revenue from taxpayer dollars. But they spend more of that money on marketing, big CEO salaries, and profits for Wall Street private equity firms than on educating students. As a result, more than half of the students who enroll in these schools drop out within about four months.

What's worse, these schools often target vulnerable populations, including veterans and disadvantaged communities who can least afford costly and worthless degrees.

To adequately protect students and taxpayers and prompt schools to quickly improve or end weak programs, the rule (Docket ID ED-2014-OPE-0039) needs to be strengthened by:

- Providing financial relief for students in programs that lose eligibility. Schools with ineffective programs that lose eligibility for federal aid should be required to make whole the students who enrolled in the program. Providing full relief to all such students is not only fair, it also creates a greater incentive for schools to quickly improve their programs.

- Limiting enrollment in poorly performing programs until they improve. Under the proposed regulation, poorly performing programs can increase the number of students they enroll, without limit, right up until the day the programs lose eligibility. Instead, the rule should impose enrollment caps until a program improves.

- Closing loopholes and raising standards. The proposed regulation is too easy to game, and its standards are too low. For example, programs can pass the standards even when 99% of their students drop out with heavy debts that they cannot pay down. Unscrupulous schools can easily manipulate job placement rates or evade accountability by limiting program size. They can exclude the debt of graduates who enroll in a program for just one day, and can enroll students in online programs that lack the accreditation needed to be hired in the states where the students live. These types of loopholes need to be closed and the standards raised.

- Protecting low-cost programs where most graduates don’t borrow. Low-cost programs where most graduates do not borrow at all – such as community colleges -- should automatically meet the standards because, by definition, these programs do not consistently leave students with unaffordable debts. Burdening these programs with a complicated appeals process could prompt more schools to leave the federal student loan program and lead to the closure of effective, low-cost programs.

It’s time to protect students and taxpayers by holding predatory colleges accountable for waste, fraud, and abuse with our tax dollars. Join us and make your voice heard! #studentsDemand #Gainful


2014-05-27 04:43:39 -0700

Today is the last day for comments on the proposed Gainful Employment regulation. Please let the DOE know that they need to Strengthen it. Easiest way to comment is via the "Campaign website" link to the upper left of this page.

2014-05-25 06:37:45 -0700

This is where you can find the comment I submitted to the DOE's rule-making session, calling for accountability on the for-profit college sector. I urge you all to make one indivually as well before the 27th of May.!documentDetail;D=ED-2014-OPE-0039-0392

2014-05-21 07:34:33 -0700

Hi All,

I want to let you know that I submitted the petition & your signatures (Name/Zipcode) to the Dept of Education's rule-making session currently going on. Docket #ED-2014-OPE-0039 Thank you so much for helping out. I urge you to submit individual comments as well before May 27th.

Don't let the for-profit college sector delude the process with incorrect/uninformed rhetoric. they usually use the few good for-profit colleges (that do a fantastic job) as human shields to protect the many bad ones' practices.

2014-05-20 19:22:18 -0700 Here is me speaking for you all at the Capitol on the 15th of May.

2014-05-16 06:33:42 -0700

Senators Harkin, Durbin, Murphy, Schatz, Warren, and Carper Call on Education Dept. to Strengthen Protections for Students at Career Education Programs

2014-05-16 06:02:38 -0700

"People who go to for-profits, they say, are far more likely to be sucked into crushing debt.

Mike DiGiacomo, a U.S. army veteran who says he was pulled into a for-profit college in Massachusetts by glossy marketing brochures and persistent salesmen, has more than $85,000 in student loans. He was told that his animation degree would help him land the video gaming job he coveted, but it turned out the school really didn’t have any connections that could help him land a job. DiGiacomo is now unemployed.

2014-05-16 06:02:10 -0700

"I think the new rules would slow what's going on," said Mike DiGiacomo, 33, of Randolph, Mass., who racked up more than $85,000 in debt and lent his story to a CREDO online petition that has garnered more than 100,000 signatures. "But they are really just putting a Band-Aid on the problem."

2014-05-16 05:57:25 -0700

‘Debt Factories’

Mike DiGiacomo, a former student at two for-profit colleges (a Gibbs College in Massachusetts, owned by the Career Education Corporation, and a campus of the Education Management Corporation’s Art Institutes), also spoke at the news conference, along with another former student, Dymond Blackmon.

"The schools I attended encouraged me to take out high-interest loans," said Mr. DiGiacomo, whose online petition for a tougher gainful-employment rule has garnered more than 100,000 signatures. "These debt factories need to be held accountable."

2014-05-16 05:56:39 -0700

Here is Senator Brian Schatz of HI speaking at the Capitol yesterday of for-profit colleges. He, like all of us, is calling for the Dept of Education to hold for-profit colleges accountable. I'm to the right.

2014-05-16 05:49:12 -0700

Here is Senator Dick Durbin of IL at the Capitol yesterday speaking of for-profit colleges. He, like all of us, is calling for the Dept of Education to hold for-profit colleges accountable I'm to the right.

2014-05-16 05:39:37 -0700

Here is a video of Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa speaking at the Capitol yesterday of for-profit colleges. He, like us, is calling for the Dept of Education to hold for-profit colleges accountable. I'm to the right.

2014-05-16 05:09:53 -0700

Hi all, I was in Washington DC yesterday with The Young Invincibles, Senator Harkin, Senator Durbin, Senator Schatz, and Senator Murphy. I will post the video clips. I had a chance to speak for everyone that has been through this. I'll see if I can find some coverage of that as well. Keep up the fight and please make sure you comment on the regulation rule-making session going on. Please add your own experience/comments to it to tell the Dept of Education that they need STRONGER rules.

2014-05-14 15:29:38 -0700

I will be in Washington D.C on Thursday, May 15th, 2014 speaking for myself and every other student that attended a for-profit college and their families.

2014-05-11 04:37:06 -0700

Thank you all for your continued support. I have one more thing to ask of you all.
Credo set up a portal that will allow you to easily comment on the Gainful Employment regulations. I hope you utilize it to share your experience. These colleges rip people off in droves & now they're trying to convince students they'd lose CHOICE & the work they've done if the gainful employment regulation moved forward. This is false. Its lobbyist spin. Please use the link above to urge the Dept of Education to put forth a stronger gainful employment regulation. By doing this, your voice will be heard ON PUBLIC RECORD TO THE GOVERNMENT. The link is here: Please join me in sending a powerful message that students & taxpayers need protection from bogus impulse programs designed to lure in the unsuspecting vulnerable people simply to get the government funding. They only end up leaving students and taxpayers with the debt and no way to pay for it.

2014-05-05 18:28:50 -0700

100,000 signatures reached

2014-05-05 06:48:41 -0700

This is one of the major hurdles that our petition faces: A trade group (lobbyists) called Association of Private Sector Colleges & Universities that defends for-profit colleges & is directly funded by them. APSCU wants to divert the conversation from accountability and responsibility. They want the continued lack of accountability and even more continued fraud, waste, and abuse to continue. They donate to campaigns of various political leaders in an attempt to gain influence. They host lavish events for their members to go over how to beat the system. Please let others know. These for-profit career colleges MUST be held accountable for hurting students and taxpayers.

2014-05-02 04:35:54 -0700

63k signatures so far. That's amazing. I want to thank you all. Also, please use/follow the hashtag #4profit for the latest news on for-profit career colleges on twitter.

2014-04-30 13:48:23 -0700

50,000 signatures reached

2014-04-30 09:22:29 -0700

36,500 people believe the Department of Education needs to hold for-profit career colleges (aka #4profit colleges) accountable for their practices. This is more than amazing. I thank you all for signing. You are all amazing. I am currently going over delivery ideas now. I will update you all when I come up with something solid. For now, please share this petition with your friends/family. I bet if you ask around, at least 1-2 of your friends have fallen for one of these companies.
Your voice will help prevent more from getting trapped in these bad deals.
Once again, thank you for signing my petition.

2014-04-30 07:00:15 -0700

20,000 signatures reached

2014-04-28 04:59:25 -0700

Thank you everyone for signing! We are almost up to 15,000 signatures! While I don't have free pizza here to offer in exchange for signatures (like others apparently: we just truth, justice, and standing up against blatantly bad practices. Please help hold these companies accountable by encouraging your friends to sign as well. Sincerely, Mike

2014-04-26 18:25:02 -0700

Wow! We're up to almost 14,000 signatures. I thank you for this! Your voices will definitely be heard. If you know anyone that has gone to one of these colleges, please show them this petition. They've seen what these schools do first hand and know that the schools need to be held accountable.

2014-04-25 15:07:22 -0700

10,000 signatures reached

2014-04-25 10:40:34 -0700

I am proud that so many people would like the Dept of Education to hold for-profit colleges accountable. Thank all of the more than 6500 that have signed this already. Keep up the good work. Students and Taxpayers must be able to trust our education system and not allow it to be gamed so easily.

2014-04-25 09:38:04 -0700

5,000 signatures reached

2014-04-25 08:16:11 -0700

1,000 signatures reached

2014-04-25 07:42:58 -0700

500 signatures reached

2014-04-25 06:14:00 -0700

100 signatures reached

2014-04-25 05:16:41 -0700

Thank you all for signing. Keep up the good work. Here is an article on Generation Progress that I appear in.

2014-04-23 03:23:16 -0700

50 signatures reached

2014-04-22 11:23:28 -0700

25 signatures reached

2014-04-22 10:23:53 -0700

10 signatures reached