University of Phoenix, ITT Tech: Scams That Leave You “Dumber” and Poorer

by on August 31, 2010 · 15 comments

in Civil Rights, Culture, Economy, Education, Labor, San Diego

Univ of Phoenix logoFor-profit college target the poor and minorities, and students who enroll end up with debt that far outweighs that of their nonprofit and public school peers.

By Makaiya Brown /AlterNet / August 30, 2010

If you’ve spent any length of time in an urban community in the U.S., I’m sure you’ve seen the ads on public transportation or heard the television commercials from schools where you can train to be a medical assistant or a computer technician. But before you or someone you know signs up for a “promising career” at one of those for-profit colleges, take heed!

For-profit colleges have been around for years. The University of Phoenix, Sanford Brown, DeVry University, and ITT Technical Institute are just a few of the more popular ones. It appears that these schools target minorities, low income individuals and anyone dumb enough to believe their ads. The most memorable are the commercials from ITT Technical Institute: Because you can’t get the jobs of tomorrow until you get the skills today. Start by calling ITT Technical Institute.

But I’m here to tell you these schools are not the answer to a promising career! I think schools like ITT are a money sucking scam! With record unemployment in the U.S. and African Americans making up a large percentage of the unemployed, I fear that more African Americans may be lured into the trap of dishonest for-profit schools only to find themselves with a degree or certificate that they cannot use and loads of debt that they cannot pay.

According to data provided by U.S. Department of Education, students who enroll in for-profit colleges end up with debt that far outweighs that of their nonprofit and public school peers. The data showed that last year 350,000 University of Phoenix students were responsible for repaying almost $5 billion in outstanding loans, yet only 44 percent of them had the financial means to repay their loans. Don’t get me wrong, students who attend public universities can graduate with large amounts of debt as well. However, all of my friends who’ve gone to 4-year accredited public or nonprofit universities have gained skills and jobs that have allowed them to pay off their loans. I can’t say the same for friends who’ve enrolled in schools like ITT Technical Institute or the University of Phoenix.

A federal investigation found that several for-profit colleges are involved in fraudulent acts and questionable marketing practices to attract students. The investigation unveiled that many of the colleges harass prospective students with repetitive recruiting phone calls after students request school information on websites. Several of the schools also encouraged students to falsify financial aid forms in order to get federal funds. By law up to 90 percent of the revenue of for-profit colleges can be derived from federal student aid. That’s billions of federal dollars that is wasted in some cases by students who either don’t finish the programs or default on the loans due to misguidance by representatives from these colleges.

Luckily the Obama Administration has been gearing up to tackle for-profit school regulation.

In order to qualify for federal aid, for-profit schools must prepare students for gainful employment. The DOE’ s proposed regulations would cut federal aid to these schools if students don’t find gainful employment or if too many of their students default on their loans. The DOE plans to rule on the regulations by November of this year. In the meantime I urge prospective students to consider traditional 4-year universities and reputable community colleges rather than for-profit schools and certificate programs. Do your research and don’t sign anything that you don’t understand, otherwise you might end up dumb and broke.

This story first appeared on offers insight, resources and opinions on African American issues. Our content serves to advance the debate toward black economic progress by focusing on finance, politics and culture. Register and read more at

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Becky Hunter September 1, 2010 at 2:30 pm


I am currently attending a for-profit college called Herzing University, because I needed the online option and they not only offer that, but they offer the exact program I want and need. Kaplan came close, and AIU almost nabbed me but were too sales-pitchy, so I ran away and did more research. That’s how I came to find the little gem of a school called Herzing U. Online. I know you mean well, but the Obama administration is not being fair here. They should only concentrate on the schools that are actually scamming people. It’s not that difficult to weed them out, but obviously Obama and crew are being lazy at many students’ expenses.

I am enrolled in a 4-year program at Herzing U, in a B.A. program for Graphic Design. So far, I’ve gotten a great education and my traditionally schooled husband has told me that my coursework seems to be more challenging than what he’s ever dealt with. I get great support from my student services team, as well as from my instructors. The career center is phenomenal, in that they start working with students right away, and encourage making connections locally to help get our feet in as many doors as possible. From what I know, most of the legit, for-profits do this.

More and more, as I talk to people I know, I find out that they’ve gotten their Masters Degrees from places like Kaplan and UOP, and have gotten raises or better jobs after doing so. Most of the guys my husband worked with in the Navy had gone to ITT and then got promoted and had engineering jobs on ships and so forth due to this education.

I don’t like how you bring up African Americans. Why that particular demographic? Are they more naive than other races? For all I know, you are African American, and that still doesn’t give you the right to lump the whole race together as “being easily lured into a trap.” I am not African American, and I take offense to the statement.

I am a mother to 4 girls. If I am forced to quit college because A) they shut down all for-profit schools and mine is one of them, B) they force me to pay out of pocket and I can’t afford to yet, or C) they let my school stay open but my only option to keep my financial aid is to pick from one of the lame programs that the government chooses for me, then what does this say to my daughters? They are all so proud of me, and tell all their friends that their mommy is in college and has a 4.0 (due to working very hard, no easy grades here). I never had the confidence to go to college until now, at 34. All this will teach my girls (and every young person with a dream but no money) is that the poorer you are, the more stuck you are. If you have a dream but have a low income, you don’t get to fulfill that dream. Nice. Let’s just all grab a seat on the lawn, an ice cold beverage and watch this nation completely go down the tubes after this.


avatar anonymous December 27, 2010 at 9:59 am

The person above clearly works for Herzing University


avatar Becky Hunter December 28, 2010 at 3:40 am

Ha ha ha! I wish I was employed at all! Nope, just a former student. Yep, I dropped out because I was scared of it being shut down even though it’s a great school. Now I’ll be looking to find another school that offers graphic design courses online. I heard AI of Seattle offers an online program. I live pretty close to Seattle, so I could actually walk with my class too, when I graduate. With Herzing, I’d have had to take a trip out East just to take part in the commencement ceremony. That was a minor drawback; seriously, I had a wonderful experience there and would recommend it still. I wish it was a not-profit college, though. :( I’d actually like a former apology from anonymous, for making a false statement about me (even though I’d be honored to do some graphic design work for Herzing if they asked me to). ;)


avatar Josh B. October 31, 2012 at 9:32 am

Becky, you may not like how the author brings up minorities, Hispanics, African Americans, poor and desperate people of any race, but the fact is these for-profit entities target them very specifically. They prey on the poor, hopeless and desperate. I’m not saying only minorities are as described above, there are plenty of dumb poor desperate whits folks to go around, they are just playing the percentages. Lump everybody together nationally and a certain percentages will reliably be in poverty, without a college education, of fearful of failure in life. They exploit our desire to be better, then saddle their students and graduates with 7 times the debt one would accumulate by going to a traditional, regionally accredited college. Not to mention your credits prob. won’t transfer should you come to your senses and transfer to a real school, and employers place less value on these for-profit degrees.


avatar melody February 22, 2011 at 1:56 pm

This article leaves out some very important facts.

– Statistics show that community colleges have the lowest graduation rates in education.
-All public schools are funded by you the tax payer. Close down private schools or make the environment not condusive for buisness and the public will have to increase the support to the public system or all students will be required to pay more.

I agree with MS Hunter restrict those that are violating the public trust and good and leave the good private schools alone.


avatar Dayonne Taylor August 26, 2011 at 3:38 pm

If you are a student with student loans in default or believe that you have been a victim of student financial aid fraud and need help, call me. I’ve been there and I know that I can help you. My phone number is 870.436.4989 or 870.504.0945


avatar Grad with job July 19, 2012 at 12:45 pm

Most people who complain about Itt-tech or University of Phoenix are normally people who could not handle the work load and failed out. I know friends who have graduated from both and now both are Directors of technology in very large companies. I myself have graduated and can say the courses were hard and took a lot of my free time up to pass. The company I work for paid up to 10,000 a year for school. So between grants and my work I ended up not owing anything. Remember if you want something bad enough you will find a way, if you don’t want it bad enough you will find excuses.


avatar jeff October 25, 2012 at 10:38 am

I call BS…You must work with one of these schools….no company is going to hire someone out of school with a ITT degree and hand them a job as a director of technology.


avatar Charlene February 5, 2013 at 8:20 pm

Are you fricken kidding me? I worked my ass off at ITT (as much as you could with the crap curriculum). I go to a community college now and the work load is triple what ITT gives you and I pay nothing to go there. I have $30,000 in loans through ITT for 3 quarters of schooling, which I cant even get a straight answer about who the lenders are or how to pay them. ITT is a crappy school and I would NEVER go back.


avatar Mr.Campus director dookey January 7, 2013 at 10:33 am

I like hese schools very much my bestestest buddiesss love them ttoooo


avatar Robert January 10, 2013 at 5:43 pm

I recently talked my sister out of ITT Tech and I’m glad I did. I don’t agree with your assesment of ITT students as dumb, however, merely sick of being poor and feeling as though the world has given up on them. Belittling their intelligence is just a cheap shot.


avatar Justin February 13, 2013 at 2:13 pm

i wish i would have done my research on ITT Tech before starting there. it seemed like such a great idea when i started, but now i keep reading a bunch of bad stuff about ITT. i really wish i wouldn’t have ever started at ITT. they really are crap.. i should have just gone to LTC which is actually close to where i live and there cost is almost 1/4 what ITT’s is


avatar justinterested March 2, 2013 at 8:55 am

I was just in itt norwood ohio and that slogan you stated was posted on a dry eraser board on their wall. If you want something bad enough something bad enough you will find a way, if you dont want want it bad enough you will keep making excuses! Questionable?????????


avatar Meg May 8, 2013 at 6:13 pm

I went to ITT for two quarters and was using my GI Bill. I caught onto the conspiracy and left for a community college for a year then transferred to a University. So glad I got out of there! I remember so many people in my ITT classes who were druggies, unusually immature, thugs, felons who had previously been to prison, guys who acted like they were there just to pick up girls, etc. There was this one guy in some of my classes who was in his mid-thirties, living with his parents, a felon who had been to prison (I was only 23 at the time) and this guy ended up kind of stalking me. He got a hold of my cell phone number, probably from that attendance sign in sheet that you have sign and put your number and email on. He started blowing up my phone always asking to hang out and would get angry when I would reject him. I remember getting texts in the mornings that would say “get up” and he would always be trying to ask me where I was at. Once I left ITT I ended up moving back to my home state that was half way across the country from that ITT. This creep somehow got my address and started sending me texts saying I have your address, I should pay you a visit. At this point I had nothing to worry about because he had my old address near ITT which was halfway across the country. Throughout my experience at community college and a university I had never came across the type of people that I did at ITT Tech.


avatar Ocheus August 23, 2013 at 2:08 pm

Force ITT tech to be honest with students


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