As reported in the New York Times, for-profit colleges and trade schools are taking advantage of unemployed and underemployed Americans looking to break into a new career. Recruiters for these schools promise practical training, professional certification, and placement at high-paying jobs after graduation. Relying on these promises, students are taking on debt of up to $30,000 per year. The schools make massive profits by preying on their students, bringing in billions of dollars per year in federal grants and loan money.

On entering the programs, students begin to realize that the training offered is completely inadequate and the certification promised is often years away. At graduation the students find themselves weighed down by debt and without any of the promised job opportunities. Most students will send out resume after resume, only to be told that, without the certification the school promised but didn’t deliver, the students are simply not qualified for the jobs they’re applying for. Students are lucky if they can find even part-time or per diem work in their field, earning a fraction of what the school recruiters told them they would earn.

Enrollment at for-profit colleges and trade schools has tripled in the last decade to about 1.8 million, or nearly 10 percent of the nation’s higher education students. Through massive advertising campaigns, these schools primarily market their services to poor students who qualify for federal student aid, the life blood of the for profit school industry.  This year, federal financing for financial aid is expected to total $145 billion.

Certainly there are some legitimate trade schools who offer quality education and the opportunity to forge a new career path.  But it is disturbing to find this rising trend of sub-standard schools scamming more and more students who were simply looking to better their lives, only to be left with mounds of debt and no jobs. 

Some of the most notorious programs for these kinds of abuses are programs for ultrasound technicians, especially programs that are not CAAHEP accredited. Our firm, Kershaw, Cutter & Ratinoff, has represented nearly 100 former students of ultrasound technician programs at trade schools in both Northern and Southern California. We’ve set up a Facebook page with information to help potential students avoid the traps of fraudulent trade schools.  Friend us here and help us spread the word.