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Administrative Avarice is Unlimited

By Professor Doom

In earlier articles, I addressed the Pell Grant scam, wherein administrators use very poor record-keeping to illicitly rake in loot, “growing” the institution by getting fake students to sign up for classes. Admin gets the pay boost for running a large institution, and the fake students get a check for whatever is left over from the Pell Grant from tuition.

I want to point out: the Pell Grant was supposed to be a way for anyone to go to college, with enough money to both pay tuition, and to cover some living expenses. Libertarian theory, for what it’s worth, says that this system of grants will only increase the costs of college, but that’s just a kooky theory, completely at odds with Keynesian/government philosophy.

Anyway, this scam has been going around for years, and it’s obvious to anyone in the industry that it’s a huge, huge scam:

As many as 25 percent of Pell recipients at community colleges fail to make “satisfactory academic progress” in a typical semester.

--25% is a very generous measure, this is the percent that, without any doubt whatsoever, are scammers. If we reduced the standard to “preponderance of the evidence,” it might be above 50%. I’ve taught many community college courses where over 30% of the students were obviously just there for the check.

Now, the above refers to community college, a place notorious for minimal difficulty, where I’ve shown before that less than 10% of the coursework is at the college level, and much of it is at the 7th grade level or lower. A student not making progress here is either not trying, or simply not capable…either way, the path of integrity would be to simply get rid of such students.

Registrar: “Due to a glitch in the system, a number of students were accidentally registered for courses of which they were unaware. 2/3rds of them got an F, so we got a flurry of complaints to fix grades.

Me: “What did the other students in courses they didn’t know they were in get?”

Registrar: “They got A’s. They still complained, because they didn’t want to pay tuition for the course. It cut into their refund.”

--seriously, it’s not that had to get by in community college. I bet everyone with an unexpected “F” complained, but the other way around? I suspect some students, upon getting a free A, would not complain, so 33% would be a low estimate of the proportion of community college courses that are bogus. Imagine if accreditation checked to see if courses were legitimate…

Anyone can put minimal effort into the courses of community college and succeed. Outside of mental disability, it really isn’t possible for a legitimate student to be able to not pass here.

Admin: “If this school experiences a 10% drop in enrollment, we may have to close. Make every effort to keep your students in your courses!”

--Every institution I’ve been at has said something to this effect. If “only” 25% of students are bogus, then that means that much of the higher education industry is currently running strictly via fraud.

Even more amazing, scamming students, even if found to be scamming, can “appeal” to get aid for two, even three more semesters, more if the student puts effort into it. I can’t make this stuff up. After years of this, the Federal government has decided to stop it, limiting the scam to only three semesters:

That will change July 1, when new Education Department rules go into effect requiring colleges to cut off aid after a third semester of failure with no more appeals.”

I can’t make this stuff up. They’re finally putting it into law to stop the scam at three semesters. Writing such a law could only be justified if there were a great number of students scamming for 4, 5, or more semesters. Why do you think administrators allowed the scam to continue past 3 semesters?

Now, passing a law to put a cap on scamming after three semesters is nice, I guess, but there are ways that a system with integrity could do something about the first three semesters of scamming:

First, I’ve mentioned before that these grants should be restricted to people that actually show an interest in education. Instead of doing no-background check signups, just give scholarship grants to people that can demonstrate an interest in scholarship. Demonstrations of knowledge, of skill, or maybe even waiting until after one semester of success would be easy things to try.

Second, a system run by people with integrity would simply get rid of scammers immediately, instead of knowingly let them run the scam for semester after semester after semester, while admin takes their cut.

Finally, integrity means holding the true criminals responsible. Make the administrators responsible for the fraud actually pay back the money they’re stealing (right now, the institution has to pay back the money admin steals, a big factor in why the scam is so huge, as the thieves get the loot, while the institution gets the bill). Send admin a bill for their thieving, and see just how many semesters they’ll steal.

The above are three easy paths that institutions run with integrity could take, to fix this scam. The regular reader of my blogs knows that none of these options are on the table.

Rather than take a course of integrity, administration will simply take a bigger cut of the loot:

House Speaker Joel Robideaux has introduced a bill in the new legislative session that would allow the technical colleges to raise tuition to capture more of the Pell Grant, reducing the incentive for people to enroll for the refund.

I pause for laughter at the word “capture” being used here, openly showing how higher education has turned into a system of plunder. Would a thief willing to take $4,000 not settle for stealing capturing only $2000 instead? How about a bank, upon realizing thieves are stealing customer accounts, deciding to just steal all the money for itself? Would that be as legitimate?

That’s the thinking here.

My guess is the student thieves will simply get a smaller cut, but now the admin thieves will get even more loot, incidentally screwing over all the legitimate students in the process—the legit students will be paying higher tuition, too, in this horribly misguided attempt to reduce the fraud. Realize that the majority of students in higher education could still be legitimate, but admin would much rather hurt legitimate students than engage in any action that would look like integrity. Would it be too much for me to say “I can’t make this stuff up” one more time?

Time and again, “expenses” is used as the reason to raise tuition. I’ve followed the money in higher education, and those expenses are primarily from a bloated and highly paid administrative caste. Alas, they’re not satisfied with creepy high pay, they want MOAR. The next tuition raise will be justified because “we’re going to take more so that you get less.”

Could there be a larger, more glaring, sign of the lack of integrity in the system? Much like with my previous post, I ask: why would you want your children anywhere near a system run by monsters people like this?


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