While arguments go back and forth over the merits of canceling some federal student loan debt, one thing seems clear: the quality and usefulness of the training received at many colleges and universities in our country simply does not justify the price.
Perhaps that’s why there’s been less fuss over the full forgiveness of federal student loans acquired for attending Westwood College between 2002 and 2015. The action will wipe out $1.5 billion dollars in federal student debt for 79,000 borrowers who attended the now-defunct for-profit college, according to the Department of Education.
Westwood College closed in 2016, after years of grossly exaggerating potential students’ chances of getting a good job after graduation. The school also claimed it would help graduates pay their bills if they could not find a job within six months of graduation. They didn’t do that.
An example of the lies told was that people enrolled in the school’s criminal justice program in Illinois could expect jobs with law enforcement agencies such as the Illinois State Police. Illinois – but the school has never had accreditation to meet that agency’s employment requirements.
“Westwood operated on a culture of false promises, lies and manipulation in order to profit from student debt that plagued borrowers long after Westwood closed,” said James Kvaal, undersecretary for education.
Good. It’s easy. But what are we to do with all the other higher education institutions that also grossly exaggerate their value to graduates hoping for jobs that are fulfilling, relevant, well-paying and can become careers? If college education is going to be so expensive that it requires the kind of money that has left so many desperate for loan forgiveness, shouldn’t they be offering training that will help give graduates the financial means to repay these loans as promised?
U.S. Department of Education officials might want to talk to the private educational associations that serve as accrediting agencies for all those colleges and universities selling what they do to students who feel pressured into debt to pursue their ambitions. .
Institutions of higher learning should provide relevant and useful education (and exposure to new fields, ideas, and people) that will propel a person, not burden a graduate, for decades to come. If accrediting agencies aren’t asking colleges and universities to provide this, it seems the federal government might want to redirect its efforts on this.