Black People : Young, black and buried in debt: How for-profit colleges prey on African-American ambition


Well-Known Member
Sep 12, 2009
Blacks Preyed Upon by For-Profit Colleges
Education corporations like Phoenix University have entrapped record numbers of African Americans in high debt and poor quality college course with no jobs at the end of the process, said journalist Kai Wright, author of an article titled “Young, Black and Buried in Debt: How For-Profit Colleges Prey on African American Ambitions.” Black college enrollment increased 35 percent between 2003 and 2009, twice the rate of white increase, according to Wright. However, most of the increase was in pursuit of “subprime degrees” from for-profit schools “that play on people’s ambitions and trick them into a terrible deal, because they’re desperate.”

Listen to interview:–-week-72213

There are a few dictums that have enjoyed pride of place in black American families alongside “Honor your parents” and “Do unto others” since at least Emancipation. One of them is this: The road to freedom passes through the schoolhouse doors.
After all, it was illegal even to teach an enslaved person to read in many states; under Jim Crow, literacy tests were used for decades to deny black voters their rights. So no surprise that from Reconstruction to the first black president, the consensus has been clear. The key to “winning the future,” in one of President Obama’s favorite phrases, is to get educated. “There is no surer path to success in the middle class than a good education,” the president declared in his much-discussed speech on the roots of gun violence in black Chicago.

Rarely has that message resounded so much as now, with nearly one in seven black workers still jobless. Those who’ve found work have moved out of the manufacturing and public sectors, where good jobs were once available without a higher ed degree, and into the low-wage service sector, to which the uncredentialed are now relegated. So while it has become fashionable lately to speculate about middle-class kids abandoning elite colleges for adventures in entrepreneurship, an entirely different trend has been unfolding in black America — people are going back to school in droves.
It’s true at all levels of education. Yes, black college enrollment shot up by nearly 35 percent between 2003 and 2009, nearly twice the rate at which white enrollment increased. But we’re getting all manner of schooling as we seek either an advantage in or refuge from the collapsed job market. As I’ve reported on the twin housing and unemployment crises in black neighborhoods in recent years, I’ve heard the same refrain from struggling strivers up and down the educational ladder: “I’m getting my papers, maybe that’ll help.” GEDs, associates degrees, trade licenses, certifications, you name it, we’re getting it. Hell, I even went and got certified in selling wine; journalism’s a shrinking trade, after all.

But this headlong rush of black Americans to get schooled has also led too many down a depressingly familiar path. As with the mortgage market of the pre-crash era, those who are just entering in the higher ed game have found themselves ripe for the con man’s picking. They’ve landed, disproportionately, at for-profit schools, rather than at far less expensive public community colleges, or at public universities. And that means they’ve found themselves loaded with unimaginable debt, with little to show for it, while a small group of financial players have made a great deal of easy money. Sound familiar? Two points if you hear troublesome echoes of the subprime mortgage crisis.

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going above and beyond
Feb 9, 2001
When we want to go back to school to earn an associates degree or learn a trade and prepare for certification . . . COMMUNITY COLLEGES are the best route, in my opinion. Although tuition costs at CC's have risen over the years, they are still cheaper and sometimes better at specializing in certain types of degree fields than 4-year institutions.

Tuition costs continue to rise also at 4-year public institutions. And, it's taking students longer to graduate with a degree. In 2010, by racial/ethnic category, it looked like the following:

"Six-year graduation rates of first-time, full-time students at four-year colleges vary by race/ethnicity and sector (Figure 9.3b; Figures 9.3f–9.3m). Asian American students at four-year colleges have the highest six-year graduation rate (68.9 percent), followed by white students (62 percent), Hispanic students (50.6 percent), American Indian students (40.3 percent) and African American students (40.1 percent)."​
With all the changes mandated by the Supreme Court in recent years relative to college admissions policies, it's getting tougher and tougher for our Black children/people to get admitted to a university and when they do, programs in place to support them while they are in college are being challenged also. The debt load while in college can be quite substantial with no guarantees of a job upon graduation. The longer our students are in school, the higher the debt. I've witnessed many Black students having to quit with high debt; or be placed on academic probation because they need to work in low paying jobs and go to school at the same time, which can cause their grades to suffer.

It's a true cause for celebration when Black students are admitted, enrolled and graduate...:party: I do all that I can to support our students and help them navigate a system that counts them for their diversity numbers, but doesn't want to recognize how a racist society has placed them at a disadvantage and doesn't really want to support them.

Someone asked me a long time ago, why bother getting a college degree? My response then and personal philosophy still is . . . it's better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.


navigator of live
May 9, 2003
LaLa land
Furniture maker, a sculptor, and fight instructor
buyer beware - This nations education systems are weak. even it's so called public higher Education. So to get in dept, one better have a great chance at a higher paying job. Other wise it's better to go the old school way, by learning how to do things by experience and go into customer service directly.

Jan 22, 2001
betwixt and between
Website Consultant
Great Topic and Posts! :toast:

Today, it's almost as if you can't get a decent job without some sort of piece of paper.

I imagine it's only gonna get worse ... but we gotta keep try'n any way.

It's hard out here for our babies. Thanks for sharing everyone!

Much Love and Peace.


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