Editor’s Note: A version of this story first appeared on PSmag.com on September 7th, 2016, with the headline "Another For-Profit Education Behemoth Goes Down." This edited version was published in our January/February 2017 print issue.
Last autumn, Pacific Standard editor Michael R. Fitzgeralddescribed a summer job he had working with a for-profit college chain whose admissions teams deftly pitched degree programs to low-income students. Fitzgerald has little doubt that some of the largest such companies scammed thousands of low-income students over the past decade. “Most for-profit college students are raised poor, are poor when they enroll in college, and remain poor years after leaving school, usually without a degree — and almost always saddled with debt,” he wrote, summarizing a Brookings Institution study from 2015. In early September, ITT Educational Services, a for-profit education company serving approximately 45,000 students, announced it was closing almost all of its campuses. The news came two weeks after the Department of Education imposed sanctions on the company, forbidding it from enrolling any new federal financial-aid recipients.