Once upon a time there was a girl from Los Angeles named Carrianne Howard. She dreamed of designing video games, so she enrolled in a program at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, a for-profit college. After graduating in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree, for which her parents paid around $70,000, she found an entry-level job in her field that paid her $12 an hour. Not great, but not bad for a just-out-of-college student. However, a year later, the company closed her department, and Carriane lost her job. After a fruitless job search, Carrianne decided her degree was “worthless” and was forced to take employment outside of her field of choice: “In October 2009,” Bloomberg Businessweek soberly informs us, “Howard turned to adult entertainment by doing paid Web chats. In March she started dancing at Lido Cabaret, earning $400 to $1,000 a week.”
What nefarious forces are behind the bad-luck streak that drove this virtuous young woman into the sex trade? If you guessed the worst recession since the Great Depression or a job climate that has been notoriously inhospitable to entry-level workers with decidedly unnecessary skills, then you must have attended a crappy for-profit college yourself, because obviously the answer is Goldman Sachs.
Goldman owns 38 percent of the Art Institute’s parent, Education Management Corp., the magazine reveals. (As for the firms that own the other 62 percent, who cares? It’s clear from the headline, “Stripper Finds Degree Profitable for Goldman Wasn’t Worth It,” who the real villain is here.) As it is from the rest of the text: “Now Goldman, which recently agreed to pay $550 million to settle U.S. civil-fraud charges related to the subprime mortgage meltdown, is invested in an industry under attack from Congress, the Obama Administration and dissatisfied students,” the article reads.
The Senate held a hearing Aug. 4 featuring a Government Accountability Office undercover probe that found recruiters at EDMC’s Argosy University in Chicago and 14 other for-profit colleges misled investigators posing as potential students about the cost and quality of their programs.
A lawsuit filed in Texas state court by 18 students alleges they were misled about the accreditation status of their program, diminishing their degrees’ value and leaving them with debts they can’t repay.
The lawsuit was against EDMC, but please: misleading unsophisticated people who can’t balance their own budgets? That is SO GOLDMAN. Thank God the government is on to them. But where does this leave poor Carianne? According to Businessweek:
She now hopes to save enough to go back to college and get a business degree.
If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, right?
Stripper Finds Degree Profitable for Goldman Wasn’t Worth It [Bloomberg Businessweek]