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Shannon Croteau was 11 classes away from a degree from Kaplan University Online (a for-profit college owned by The Washington Post Company) when she learned she was out of financial aid, $30,000 in debt, and here's the kicker -" the degree she was working toward would be worthless in her state of New Hampshire.
She was billed for loans she never signed up for, enrolled in classes she didn't choose and, when she complained, was given the runaround by a succession of fake "loan officers" who wouldn't tell her the truth, let alone their last names."They lied and cheated," Shannon told us at Change.org. "It has ruined me."
She's just one of millions of students to have her financial life devastated by the fraudulent and predatory practices of for-profit colleges. Countless other Kaplan students have come forward, saying they've been charged for classes even after they've withdrawn, stalked by aggressive admissions officers or had their degrees held hostage if they don't ante up "surprise" fees.
It's important to understand that for-profit colleges stay in business by taking billions from the federal government: During the 2008-09 academic year alone, for-profit colleges siphoned off $4.3 billion of federal student aid.
And if the students can't pay those loans back, who cares? Students who attend for-profit colleges account for only 12% of America's college students, but they represent nearly half of student loan defaults. Those students will be hounded by creditors for the rest of their lives. Our tax dollars cover their debts. And the for-profit colleges never have to give back a dime.
They don't care whether the students they recruit can afford college, or even whether those students will be able to use their degrees if and when they graduate. For these businesses, each new recruit represents a profit. Nothing more, nothing less.
But Shannon Croteau and a group of former Kaplan students are fighting back -" and Change.org members can help. By raising the profile of these appalling institutions, we can pressure the Washington Post Company to get out of the business of preying on people's dreams of better educations and better careers.
Please take action today to tell Washington Post Company Chairman Donald Graham to either stop the fraudulent practices or shut down Kaplan University:
Thanks for taking action,
Judith and the Change.org team