Education in Danger? Should for-profit colleges be allowed to recruit in high schools?

Every year school districts around Florida open their doors to students full of questions trying to figure what the next chapter of their life is going to be.

From the big players to the little players, schools from all over the country show up to try and help usher young students into the future.

But also at these college gatherings, schools known less for helping students soar and more for sinking them into debt.

"I think I'm at $49,000 right now," said Sydney Andrade who graduated from the Art Institute of Tampa in 2011.
"It Burns me up," said Mariet Aguila as she wipes tears from her eyes. She graduated from the Art Institute of Tampa in 2009.

Both students took out student loans to attend the for-profit college with dreams of a career in game design. Those dreams quickly painted over by serious debt and a degree they both call worthless.

"I don't even put my degree on my resume anymore," said Andrade who graduated and was placed in job at Kinkos. Mariet Augila's degree sits on her parents nightstand, collecting dust.

What is a "for-profit college?"

The Art Institute is among schools known as for-profit colleges. A wide net industry widely accused of lying to recruit students only to overcharge and underwhelm.

"I haven't seen anything positive really come out of the industry as a whole," said Jesse Hoyer, a young Tampa attorney who cut her teeth as a litigator exposing the pitfalls of for-profit colleges including the Art Institutes parent company, Education Management Corporation (EDMC).

She sued and while the company never admitted fault two years ago, it agreed to an unprecedented $100 million government settlement over claims its schools illegally recruited students.

But that chapter in history seemingly not enough to stop several taxpayer funded school districts in our area from inviting the art institute and other for-profits into college fairs all across the state of Florida. Giving them easy access to young high schoolers.

We've seen first hand the way they mislead students, the way they rip off taxpayers," said Hoyer who warns against the dangers these schools pose.

Tonight, watch our full investigation into for-profit colleges in Florida.

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