School of Hard Knocks

by Barry Yeoman on June 1, 2010

Record numbers of women are enrolling in for-profit career colleges, hoping for better lives and high-paying jobs. Instead, too many are ending up with useless diplomas and staggering debt.

Originally published in Good Housekeeping

AFTER HER DIVORCE FIVE YEARS AGO, Yasmine Issa realized she could no longer afford to be a stay-at-home mom. She’d taken two years of college classes before getting married, but had never trained for a professional job. “I wanted to do something promising for myself,” says the 28-year-old from Yonkers, N.Y. Hoping to become an ultrasound technician, she found the Web site for Sanford-Brown Institute, a chain of for-profit career colleges specializing in the health professions. “If you’re looking for an exciting and rewarding career in today’s expanding fields,” the Web site said, “we can help you get there.”

At Sanford-Brown’s White Plains, N.Y., campus, in a renovated brick office complex, she met with a recruiter for the school, owned by the Career Education Corp. The company earns $1.7 billion a year from some 90 career colleges nationwide. The recruiter told Issa that an accelerated program would help her earn an ultrasound certificate in just 18 months, and promised that Sanford-Brown’s placement service would steer her toward work that paid well. “We won’t stop until you find a job,” she recalls him saying. He also told her that the school was accredited by the government-approved Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools; that was reassuring, she says. But she felt a bit uncomfortable about the way the recruiter pressured her. She’d better hurry, he warned; the registration deadline was just days away. “I did, of course, feel rushed,” she says. “And I signed up for it.” The course cost $27,000. Issa took out $15,000 in federal student loans and paid another $12,000 from her twin daughters’ child support.

She appreciated the hands-on training Sanford-Brown gave her, Issa says, although she questioned the value of some of the classroom instruction. “We only memorized for the exams,” she says. “We didn’t really absorb the information.” Still, she took her education seriously, envisioning a time when she could comfortably support her girls, now 7. In June 2008, after a year and a half of study, she received her certificate in Diagnostic Medical Ultrasound.

Then came the shocker: When Issa tried to get her professional credentials, the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography, a nonprofit certifying body, informed her that she was ineligible to take its registration exam. Issa was astonished to learn that although Sanford-Brown was accredited, its ultrasound curriculum was not — a detail she says the recruiter neglected to mention. (The school says the information was in a written disclosure given to Issa  during registration.) Graduates of unaccredited programs can’t take the exam without 12 months of work experience — but no employer would hire Issa unless she’d taken the exam.

Issa applied for about 200 jobs, visiting hospitals and doctors’ offices throughout New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, and was turned away every time. The school’s placement service was no help. “The lady just said, ‘Oh, I sent your résumé out. There aren’t many jobs around. I’ll keep you posted,’” Issa recalls. “She never did.”

Now unemployed — she keeps looking for ultrasound jobs because that’s the only skill on her résumé — and watching the interest mount on her unpaid student loans, Issa feels stuck. She’d like to study nursing at a traditional college, but her coursework from Sanford-Brown won’t transfer (see “How to Protect Yourself,” below). And because she’s living on child support, she can’t afford to take on additional debt. “It’s so stressful to know that I have a family to take care of, rent and car bills to pay, and this huge loan,” she says. “I wish I could go back to school and do something else. But I don’t have the money.”

HIT HARD BY A TROUBLED ECONOMY, more and more Americans are turning to for-profit career colleges specializing in fields like medical assisting, computer graphics, and criminal justice. They dream of getting a better job and a better life. But what too many of them are getting instead is a useless diploma and shattered dreams.

Government investigations and whistle-blower lawsuits have cited myriad problems with for-profit schools, including unqualified teachers, externships that don’t materialize, false promises that credits will transfer to traditional colleges, and overblown job-placement figures. Perhaps worst of all, say critics — including the plaintiffs in various lawsuits — graduates often find themselves not only woefully unequipped for new careers, but saddled with staggering debt.

Nearly three million Americans — 64 percent of them women — attended accredited private for-profit career colleges in 2007-2008, according to the Washington, D.C.-based Career College Association. You’ve probably seen the television commercials and subway and bus ads promising new skills and jobs that pay well. Designed to appeal to busy adults, the colleges (also called proprietary schools) emphasize their flexible schedules, online classes, and faculty with real-world experience. They grant professional certificates along with associate’s, bachelor’s, and even graduate degrees. Tuition tends to be expensive at these schools, many of which are owned by large corporations. But students are encouraged to borrow the money through government and (to a lesser degree) private loan programs.

Fueled by $17.5 billion annually in federal student loans and grants — some schools get almost 90 percent of their revenues from government programs — the for-profit career-college industry has averaged more than 10 percent annual growth since 1976. The recent economic downturn has pushed that growth rate closer to 25 percent, says Harris Miller, president and CEO of the Career College Association. “When the recession started, our business went into hyperdrive,” he notes.

Miller thinks that for-profit schools fill a gap in the marketplace — particularly during these hard times, as the freshly unemployed try to improve their job prospects by acquiring new skills. Traditional universities, he says, are geared toward what he calls the “socially elite,” while community colleges are suffering from budget cuts. “Career colleges aren’t for everybody — we’re not going to supplant Harvard or Stanford — but we are absolutely critical,” Miller says. “We focus on students who weren’t listening to Mozart in utero and preparing for their SATs in third grade.”

The schools offer up success stories — graduates like Diana Rivera, a 29-year-old former retail manager who parlayed a criminal-justice degree from Westwood College’s downtown Chicago campus into a $37,000-a-year job supervising outreach workers at a violence-prevention program. Rivera, a single mother, earned her bachelor’s degree in three years, using private loans and federal loans and grants to pay most of her $60,800 tuition. “Now when I stay late or work overtime,” she says, “I’m helping a person or a family. It’s more meaningful knowing that you’ve saved someone’s life.”

But in April 2009, Alta Colleges, the owner of the national Westwood College chain, paid the government $7 million to resolve a whistle-blower lawsuit filed by nine former employees of Westwood’s Texas campuses. The suit charged in part that the schools told students the job-placement rate was 97 to 99 percent, when the overall rate was actually less than 55 percent. Westwood admitted no wrongdoing.

In 2005, John P. Higgins Jr., Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Education, told Congress that 74 percent of his office’s institutional-fraud cases over the previous six years involved for-profit schools. And the education department (ED) reports low graduation rates for proprietary-school bachelor’s programs — 32.6 percent completion within six years, compared to 54.8 percent for public schools, and 64.5 percent for private nonprofit schools.

“While there are, in fact, some quality proprietary institutions, the sector is overwhelmingly biased in the direction of the quick buck,” says Barmak Nassirian, associate executive director of the nonprofit American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, which includes for-profit schools among its members. Students trying to improve their lives end up worse off than when they started, he says. “They get packaged with enormous amounts of crushing debt. They receive, frankly, worthless credentials. And they’re basically on a smooth glide path to defaulting on their loans, which they do in disproportionate numbers.” According to preliminary data released last December by the ED, nearly a quarter of all career colleges that participate in the federal student-loan program have three-year default rates of 30 percent or higher — a rate virtually unheard-of among traditional schools. Of the 316 colleges (both nonprofit and for-profit) with that exorbitant rate, 78 percent come from the for-profit sector, and 22 of them belong to the Everest College chain, which offers programs like medical assisting, pharmacy technicianship, and massage therapy. Everest’s $1.3-billion-a-year parent company, Corinthian Colleges, attributes the large number of defaults to its “economically disadvantaged” student body and says it is working to lower the rate.

Defaulters can have their wages garnished by the ED, their income tax refunds seized by the Department of the Treasury, and their credit scores harmed. The government can sue for the money or refer the loan to a private collection agency. “They can come after you forever,” says Deanne Loonin, an attorney with the National Consumer Law Center in Boston. “For a lot of students, the way to get out of this trap would be to go back to school, get a legitimate education, and get a better-paying job. But this debt is preventing them from doing that.” Moreover, when students default on federal loans, taxpayers pick up the tab because the loans are guaranteed by (and in some cases originate from) the government.

Publicly traded career-college companies are obligated to maximize profit for their owners and shareholders, but industry officials insist that’s not a problem. “Let’s assume we are a bunch of money-grubbing SOBs,” says Miller of the Career College Association. “One of the secrets of business is to have happy customers. If you were constantly offering a poor-quality education, you might make some very nice short-term profits, but your long-term financial outlook is lousy.”

Some critics, including former employees, suggest other reasons for the phenomenal growth — the companies’ ubiquitous commercials on daytime television, which get prospective students in the door, and high-pressure sales operations that target vulnerable people who probably don’t have experience shopping for higher education.

Clarence Harmon served as president of Sanford-Brown College’s Hazelwood, Mo., campus for nine months in 2004-2005. Before that, he was the mayor and police chief of St. Louis, Mo. “Our programs were very expensive, and they were taught a lot of times by unqualified people who didn’t possess the academic or experiential background,” he says. Yet students kept enrolling, he says — lured by daytime television ads promising a quick path to a lucrative livelihood. Harmon attended several meetings of parent company Career Education Corp. “I don’t remember a single discussion about the academic side,” he says. “It was all about money. Trying to make some reform was like marching up a snowy, steep hill in a crosswind.”

Career Education Corp., which also owns the Sanford-Brown Institute campus where Yasmine Issa studied sonography, has been fighting to salvage its reputation after a series of public-relations blows. The company has faced numerous lawsuits accusing it of misleading students about job placement, starting salaries, the quality of its teaching staff and training equipment, and the transferability of its credits. It’s also been the target of investigations by the ED, and by the Securities and Exchange Commission and Department of Justice, neither of which took action, as well as exposés by CBS’s 60 Minutes and the Chronicle of Higher Education, a weekly newspaper covering academia. In 2005, the ED temporarily barred the company from opening new campuses, citing “a history of noncompliance” with government financial standards and misrepresentations about the employability of its graduates. One of its chains, American InterContinental University, was placed on probation for its admissions and marketing practices from December 2005 to December 2007 by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, which was its accrediting agency at the time.

Jeff Leshay, a senior vice president at Career Education Corp., insists that students at its approximately 90 campuses are getting high-quality training. “We wouldn’t be growing the way we are if students and employers didn’t see the value of the education we’re offering,” he says, adding that “hundreds and hundreds” of Sanford-Brown graduates have found ultrasound jobs. And he dismisses Clarence Harmon as “a disgruntled former employee.” Leshay says his company has always scrutinized the quality of its schools. “Our focus has shifted more and more heavily toward student success,” he says. The editor of Higher Ed Watch, a public-policy blog published by the New America Foundation, a nonpartisan think tank, says the reality is more complex. “The corporation’s new management has taken some positive steps,” says Stephen Burd, “particularly closing down some of the most troubled schools. But there remain serious concerns about the educational quality of the programs it offers.”

SHODDY CAREER COLLEGES ARE NOTHING NEW. Twenty years or so ago, the typical offenders were small storefront operations designed primarily to squeeze student-loan money from the federal government — “truck-driving schools that would take your money and then not have a truck,” says David W. Breneman, Ph.D., a professor of economics in education at the University of Virginia. A congressional crackdown in 1992 meant that many of these mom-and-pop schools lost their accreditation, along with their federal funding.

It didn’t solve the problem, though. Some of those hard-hitting federal rules have been relaxed since then, and state oversight remains an uneven patchwork. Says Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA), Congress’s most outspoken reform advocate, “The abuses are the same: false advertising, questionable recruiting tactics, offering phony classes that don’t lead to jobs, and saddling these young people with loans they’ll never be able to pay off.”

Recent shady operators have included some mom-and-pops. At Caliber Training Institute — a 550-student school in New York City that promised to train medical assistants, insurance billers, and travel agents — undercover investigators found unqualified teachers, overcrowded classrooms, and classes that were not taught as approved. “It was more of a party atmosphere,” says Carole Yates, director of New York State’s Bureau of Proprietary School Supervision, which conducted the three-year investigation. “Students would get an A if they brought a dish to share.” At the Institute for Vocational Training and Development (IVTD) in Bronx, N.Y., an instructor with phony nursing credentials taught the health care classes, Yates says. New York State’s education department ordered both schools closed, IVTD in 2007 and Caliber in 2008.

The new breed of corporate-owned career colleges doesn’t perpetuate outright scams like the trucking schools without trucks. “But they’re still money machines,” says Breneman. “They get under pressure because Wall Street views them as growth companies. That’s when they break the rules.”

This pressure to grow often leads career colleges to spend lavishly on marketing: According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, the schools spend more than $1 billion a year in advertising alone. Unfortunately, not every school is as generous when it comes to hiring top-notch teachers and buying equipment.

That’s what Wendy Wolcott discovered. Wolcott, 33, first visited the Merrillville, IN, campus of Brown Mackie College in 2007, hoping to leave her dead-end job as a middle school “lunch lady” and become a medical assistant. The recruiters promised her small classes, an accelerated schedule, and an externship working with patients near her home. They encouraged her to enroll immediately, she says, because classes had started the day before. “Without really thinking about it, I said, ‘Sure, I’ll jump in,’” says the mother of two. “It was time to find something better for myself and for my family.”

It didn’t take long, Wolcott says, for her to realize the reality didn’t match the promises. Key classes were overcrowded. Some instructors “taught” by reading out of textbooks. “A lot of the equipment was outdated, broken, or we didn’t have enough of a supply,” Wolcott says. Students had to share electroencephalogram sensor pads, which were designed for individual use. “The medical-mannequin arms had been injected so many times that you really couldn’t find the veins,” she says. “And when we practiced injections on one another, we were told to do no more than two shots because we didn’t have enough of the saline to go around.”

Wolcott had a few teachers she considered excellent. They, too, felt frustrated. “In my own lab, I had a broken autoclave [a device for sterilizing instruments] that they refused to get fixed,” says David Scholl, who chaired the allied-health department from 2008 to 2009. “Yet the students were supposed to be certified on how to use it.” One of the two blood centrifuges was broken. “There was the potential for someone to get seriously injured. Half the supplies were expired. Every time I brought it up,” Scholl says, “I was told either, ‘You don’t need it’ or ‘It’s too expensive.’”

Part of Scholl’s job was to line up externships at medical offices. But when he contacted prospective sites, he says, “a lot of them wouldn’t accept Brown Mackie students because they said they were poorly trained or not trained at all.” Education Management Corp., Brown Mackie’s $2-billion-a-year parent company, declined to be interviewed for this article, but four students and another former instructor told similar stories.

Wolcott said she had to fight for an externship near her home in Crete, Ill. She was finally assigned to a day-care center for disabled adults, where she had little contact with clients and spent most of the day behind a computer. Now, awaiting graduation, she can’t find a job. “I wish someone would have taken me under their wing and said, ‘Watch it,’” she says.

FOR PROFIT-SCHOOLS GENERALLY SPEND MUCH MORE on recruitment than do traditional colleges and universities. And they often reward those recruiters (or “enrollment counselors”) who sign up the most students. It’s illegal for schools to compensate employees based exclusively on the number of students they enroll. But they can circumvent that rule by adding other factors (like communications skills and working relationships), no matter how minor or subjective, to their pay formulas.

The trouble with this system is that recruiters are only human. If more enrollments lead to higher pay, some salespeople will be tempted to boast that graduates routinely land high-five-figure jobs or that the school’s credits will transfer to traditional universities when they don’t and won’t. They’ll inflate the completion and job-placement rates, or encourage gullible students to sign up without reading the fine print.

Some of the country’s largest career-college chains have been accused of deceptive recruiting tactics. In 2003, the ED investigated University of Phoenix, which has more than 200 locations in the U.S. and Canada. A stinging report described a brutal environment in which recruiters were rewarded or punished based solely on how many students they enrolled. “Seventy-two percent of the recruiters interviewed stated that it was always about the numbers — all about ’butts in seats’ or ‘asses in classes,’” the report said. Top sellers won hefty raises along with ski tickets and spa packages, while less successful recruiters were threatened with firing.

University of Phoenix’s management encouraged these hard-sell tactics, according to former employees and company documents. “One of the trainers would tell us, ‘Find the student’s pain, rip the scab off, stick your finger in the wound, and keep pushing until the student cries,’” says Rebecca Mackover, 38, who worked at the San Jose, Calif., campus from 2003 to 2005. “Does that person feel like she’ll be a bad mother if she’s not a good role model for her child? Then that’s what you would use against her if she tried to back out.” Though she’s no longer a recruiter, Mackover still attends classes at University of Phoenix, and she says the quality of instruction is comparable with that of state schools.

Last December, University of Phoenix’s $4-billion-a-year corporate parent, Apollo Group, agreed to pay $67.5 million to the federal government, plus $11 million in attorney fees, to settle a whistle-blower lawsuit alleging an illegal scheme to compensate recruiters based on the number of students they enrolled. Company officials denied wrongdoing and said they settled to avoid a protracted legal battle. Spokeswoman Sara Jones says recruiters are compensated based partly on enrollment figures, but even more on such things as customer service, communication skills, judgment, and student retention. She adds that recruiters undergo compliance training so that they know how best to advise and support students. “University of Phoenix is in the middle of a turnaround to ensure everything we do is designed to enable student success,” Jones says.

Other firms have faced similar complaints. The lawsuit that Alta settled last year also charged that the company encouraged recruiters at its Westwood Colleges to help unqualified students cheat on certain entrance exams, and steered students into an interior design program that would not qualify them to take the state licensing test. “We believe that we’ve always acted lawfully and ethically,” says Westwood spokesperson Kristina Yarrington, who says the company settled the case to avoid lengthy and costly litigation. She says recruiters are expected to be “transparent” with prospective students and admit only those who stand a good chance of succeeding. “The job of our admissions representatives is to enroll graduates,” she says.

That comes as a surprise to Zahra Crowley, who recruited for many of Westwood’s campuses in 2007. (She now works at the public University of Colorado.) Crowley remembers being instructed to push prospective customers to enroll quickly — even when Westwood’s offerings didn’t match their career goals. “If someone wants to be a doctor, tell them to sign up for the medical-assisting program,” she recalls her director saying, though Westwood’s credits rarely transfer to traditional schools. “If a student says, ‘I want to think about it,’ that’s when you’re supposed to say, ‘What’s there to think about? Do you want to amount to nothing? You said you didn’t want to work at McDonald’s.’”

SOME PUBLIC OFFICIALS HAVE BEEN WORKING to make career colleges more responsible. In 2007, California Attorney General Jerry Brown announced a $6.5 million settlement with Corinthian Colleges, which operated 14 campuses across the state. Brown accused the company of inflating the percentage of alumni who found work in their fields, along with graduates’ starting salaries. He also alleged that Corinthian falsified graduation and employment data it gave the government. Corinthian provided $5.8 million in refunds and debt cancellation for former students and paid the state a $700,000 civil penalty — amounts, some critics say, that were too low to have a deterrent effect. Three weeks later, the company settled a similar matter with Florida’s attorney general. Corinthian denied wrongdoing in both states.

The Obama Administration intends to tighten the ban on compensating recruiters based on how many students they enroll. The ED has floated proposed rules eliminating 12 Bush-era loopholes currently in the federal regulations — including one allowing schools to raise and lower recruiter salaries twice a year as long as admissions numbers are not the sole factor. It has also suggested tougher rules against deceptive marketing.

Many students haven’t waited for the government to take action; they’ve consulted attorneys. After four former Westwood College students filed an arbitration case last year — accusing the school of misrepresenting graduates’ job prospects and whether credits would transfer, and of charging illegally high interest on the school’s private student loans — hundreds of additional students and alumni shared similar stories with the plaintiffs’ Tampa law firm. “Students have told us that instead of getting job offers, they’re getting laughed at,” says lead attorney Jillian Estes. “When they present themselves with a degree from Westwood, employers say, ‘Nice try, but why don’t you go to college and then give me a call?’” Westwood’s Yarrington accuses Estes of “online ambulance chasing,” and points out that between July 2008 and June 2009, 76 percent of graduates found work in their fields, according to the school’s accrediting agency.

Some former students are speaking out to lawmakers. Michelle Freeman, 32, left an unsatisfying production job in the television industry to study interior design at American InterContinental University, owned by Career Education Corp., in Los Angeles. She hoped the two-year program would help her land more creative work designing studio sets for TV programs.

She first visited the campus in 2003. “I was told how everyone gets jobs in the upper-five-figure, lower-six-figure range,” she says. “They told me, ‘You need an internship? We’ve got lists of places. You need a job? We’ve got alumni who will be more than happy to hire you. Because this is such a prestigious school, you’re going to be turning down jobs because everyone’s going to want you.’”

But the promised internship never materialized, Freeman says. Then the school said it couldn’t help her find work after she graduated. During regular trips to the placement office, she recalls, campus employees said, “I’m sorry. We don’t have anything available right now.” After those visits, Freeman often felt sick to her stomach — and defeated. Four years later, her unemployment benefits have run out, and she owes more than $63,000 for her education. Career Education Corp. is in the process of shutting down the school, not Leshay says because of “quality issues,” but because of “market needs.”

“On a weekly basis I look around my apartment, saying, ‘What can I sell?’” Freeman says. “I see homeless people on street corners holding up signs: ‘Please help.’ And I keep wondering: How much longer until that’s me?” But Freeman has taken action. In 2007 she appeared before a California legislative committee, asking its members to toughen the state’s oversight of proprietary schools. “We were all under the impression that we would graduate with businesses fighting for us to work for them,” she testified. “Now we are terrified, jobless, and in a scary amount of debt.” She and a fellow former student are starting an interior design firm.

Freeman says she spoke up because “somebody needed to be a voice — for the people who are too afraid to stand up for themselves, and for the people who don’t know how. Thousands of people are being taken advantage of. And it needs to stop.”

SIDEBAR: How to protect yourself.

Are you thinking of attending a for-profit career college? Read this first:

  • Check the Department of Education’s College Navigator (nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator). By typing in a school’s name, you can learn about graduation rates, accreditation, admissions policy, financial aid info, loan-default rates, and costs. A low graduation rate might mean students are unsatisfied with their educations. A high default rate might mean graduates can’t find jobs.
  • Ask the school’s recruiter about graduation and placement rates, default rates on student loans, and the full cost of earning a degree or certificate, including books and fees. Compare the recruiters’ answers with what you learn on the College Navigator. If the information doesn’t match, watch out.
  • Contact your state’s education department and find out which agency regulates for-profit career colleges. Call that agency and ask if they’ve investigated or received complaints about the career college. Later, if you have a problem with the school, you’ll know where to file a complaint.
  • Ask the recruiter whether the school is accredited, and by whom. Contact the accrediting agency and confirm this information. Also ask whether the accreditation is regional or national. Both types are recognized by the federal government, but regional accreditation carries more weight with many employers. Credits from nationally accredited career colleges rarely transfer to traditional schools.
  • If you plan to continue your education at a nonprofit school, contact that school and ask if it accept credits earned at the career college you’re considering.
  • If you plan to head straight into the workforce, contact potential employers and ask if they hire graduates of the career college. Ask the recruiter about specific companies that hire graduates. Contact those companies for verification.
  • Also ask employers whether you need to pass a certification exam to get hired. Ask the certifying agency whether graduates of the career college are allowed to sit for the exam.
  • Visit the school. Talk to students — or better yet, former students.
  • Find out the school’s parent company. If it’s publicly traded, type the company’s name into the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Web site (sec.gov/search/search.htm), and read the company’s most recent annual report (Form 10-K) online. The company is required to disclose lawsuits and government investigations it currently faces. (The info might be tough to find; look for a header such as “legal proceedings.”)
  • Read Web sites like complaintsboard.com and ripoffreport.com. These sites are not completely reliable, since reports are anonymous. But a large number of complaints should raise red flags. In the case of complaintsboard.com, you can send a message to the complainer and seek additional information. You can also do an Internet search on your own; enter a company name and “complaint.”
  • Check your local community or state college to see if it has lower-cost classes or programs in your area of interest.
  • If, in the end, you decide to enroll in a career college, read every document before signing it. Don’t let a recruiter pressure you into signing somethingon the spot. Be aware of sneaky language, like “arbitration clauses” that bar you from suing the school if you feel defrauded.

SIDEBAR: The players

Here are some of the biggest companies in the for-profit education industry, and the schools they own:

ALTA COLLEGES: Westwood College, Redstone College.

APOLLO GROUP: University of Phoenix, Western International University

CAREER EDUCATION CORP.: American InterContinental University, Briarcliffe College, Brooks Institute, ColoradoTechnical University, International Academy of Design & Technology, Le Cordon Bleu, Sanford-Brown, and others.

CORINTHIAN COLLEGES: Everest College, Heald College, Wyotech

DEVRY: Apollo College, DeVry University, Chamberlain College of Nursing, Western Career College

EDUCATION MANAGEMENT CORP.: The Art Institutes, Argosy University, Brown Mackie College, South University

ITT EDUCATIONAL SERVICES: ITT Technical Institute, Daniel Webster College

WASHINGTON POST CO.: Concord Law School, Kaplan University

Earlier stories by Barry Yeoman on career colleges