Letter asks feds to crack down on for-profit schools’ false claims

hector balderas

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – New Mexico’s Attorney General is asking the feds to do something about all the colleges that advertise on television, claiming they’re the key to a better life.

This time they’re going after the agency that gives those schools the stamp of approval.

Just a few years ago, on special assignment KRQE News 13 profiled an Albuquerque school that was supposed to be training medical assistants.

They closed abruptly after collecting tuition, leaving more than a hundred students high and dry.

“I may just have to end up starting completely over, and have all those loans there that I have to pay back,” said Cathy McCloney. McCloney is an Albuquerque mom wondering what she was going to do after ATI Career Services closed its doors in 2013.

She is just one of thousands of students who borrowed big bucks for degrees.

The ads are on all the time: promises of a better future and a better job by getting a degree.

This week New Mexico’s Attorney General along with eleven others from around the country sent a letter to the US Education Secretary, asking the feds to crack down on the organization that signs off on for-profit schools like Brown Mackie College and ITT Tech.

AG letter

“A lot of times they’ll misrepresent their job placement expectations. They will also shortchange them on the quality of education they will receive. And I’m concerned they’re charging excessive costs,” said New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas.

Career schools like Heald, which suddenly closed last year, have been the targets of lawsuits by states around the country, accused of using false job placement claims to lure students and then leaving them with lots of debt, sometimes worthless degrees.

The attorneys general behind the letter want the feds to quit recognizing the national organization that accredits them, the accrediting council for independent colleges and schools (ACICS), and saying stronger oversight is necessary to “protect vulnerable students from predatory schools and profit-seeking institutions offering training of no educational value.”

The AG’s Office wants the Department of Education to revoke ACICS’ license as one of the country’s two accrediting agencies for career schools.

No word on when the education department might do that.

According to the AG’s letter, the schools that ACICS has accredited have a 35-percent graduation rate.

Schools with the accreditation qualify for billions in federal students loans.

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