Ads for private, for-profit colleges and trade schools like the University of Phoenix, ITT Tech and Corinthian Colleges, Inc., lure students by leading them to believe that after graduation, they will land well-paying jobs that will help them get to a solid middle-class life. But graduates often end up seeing more bills than paychecks as they struggle to pay back massive student loans -- often at double-digit interest rates --after landing low-income jobs. A two-year associates degree at ITT Technical Institute, for example, costs around $40,000. The Le Cordon Bleu culinary school in Portland, Oregon arranged one student a loan of almost $14,000 that carried a a 13 percent interest rate and a $7,327 "finance charge." Experts say recruiters for these schools use aggressive, sometimes deceitful recruiting practices that can mislead students into poverty. The schools derive the bulk of their revenue from federal loans and grants, and the percentages have been climbing rapidly. The Apollo Group, which owns the University of Phoenix, derives 86 percent of its revenue from federal student aid sources, up from 69 percent two years earlier. Critics argue that these institutions profit at taxpayer expense while delivering questionable benefits to students. The Obama administration has floated a proposal to protect students from predatory practices by barring for-profit schools from loading them up with more debt that is justified by the salaries of the jobs they would likely pursue. The proposal has sparked fierce lobbying from the for-profit educational industry, which is pushing to maintain the status quo.
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