How a For-Profit College Targeted the Homeless and Kids With Low Self-Esteem

By Annie Waldman, ProPublica

Perhaps you remember Corinthian Colleges. It was the country’s second largest chain of for-profit colleges, before it collapsed into bankruptcy last year amid evidence of phony marketing and predatory loans.

The shenanigans brought investigations from more than 20 state attorneys general and the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

But the actual emails and testimony underlying the allegations haven’t been public. Until now.

Earlier this week, California’s Attorney General quietly filed thousands of pages of documents and testimony as part of an ongoing lawsuit against Corinthian. We trudged through them and, well, just read the upshots.

Read the rest of the story at ProPublica.

Blogger-in-Chief here at RetirementSavvy and author of Sin City Greed, Cream City Hustle and RENDEZVOUS WITH RETIREMENT: A Guide to Getting Fiscally Fit.


  1. They’re targeting people that are desperate, I’ve seen these places pop up in old department stores around Chicago. They target anyone really, I know two family members that went to a for profit “tech school” back then they wanted I think $15 or $20k up front for 9 months of mediocre education that ended in a worthless “certificate” Not even a degree?! I’d expect at least an associate degree with various certificates. Not to mention many of these teachers barely know anything about what they’re teaching. That’s a problem I’ve seen at various schools. Neither one of my relatives got a tech job, one still defends the school because I think the truth that he got scammed is too embarrassing for him. My dad cosigned one of the loans because my mom pushed him into it, he said he’ll never cosign for anyone ever again.

    • There really are a lot of unsavory characters in the education game. They are capitalizing on the idea that in order to achieve a reasonable level of career, and financial success, a post-secondary education is a must. As I have noted in other posts related to education, prospective students and their parents really need to pay close attention to two factors with respect to education: how it’s financed and the chosen course of study. Spending too much – particularly when a ton of debt is accrued – on the wrong degree (one that has limited options in the current employment environment) can have profound long-term negative impacts.

  2. All I can say is that, IMHO, what the school was doing was demeaning. They are targeting homeless and kids with low esteem. May be it’s just me, but I’ve never seen an institution big or small, private or public that does not. I wonder what will happen to the victims or if they will ever get compensated for what they’ve gone through. I hope there’s a happy ending for the victims.

    • Just another reminder that it can’t always be about profit. Thanks for stopping by, my friend.

  3. Disgusting and predatory.

    Revolting to think that any colleges have gotten away with this kind of recruiting in the past, and continue to get away with it.

    I attended a well-ranked, public university and making it in the real world is harder than I imagined.

    I can’t imagine trying to make it when all the odds are stacked against you.

    • Indeed. I recently read an article over at Slate, When Dignity Costs Too Much, that discusses the plight of adjunct professors. When you step back and look at how those professors are struggling, consider the costs – and the resultant debt – often associated with attaining a postsecondary education, and the predatory nature of for-profit schools, there is reason to believe our education system is broken.

      Thanks for taking the time to stop by and share your thought, Elle.

      • Ugh, this frustrates me so much! Some of the best instructors I had were adjunct professors who taught for only a few hours a week, making barely anything. Since I attended a public university, I could actually look online and see exactly how much they made.

        I have no regrets about attending college, mainly because I completed my degree early, paid in-state tuition, and found a job right after.

        But now, I question the idea that everyone needs a college education, or that more expensive schools are any better than cheaper schools.

        I’m starting to see college as more of a luxury than a necessity, because between student loans and postgraduate job prospects, it is hard to say what a degree is really worth.

        • I believe that for most people a degree is still necessary and worth it. However, detailed attention should be paid to how it is finance and care should be taken to choose the right discipline. I shared my thoughts in an earlier post, Is College Worth It?

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