Plain old-fashioned academic cheating, unlike for-profit school cheating. (photo: Mr_Stein via Flickr)

One of the ways that jobless workers have kept off the streets while upgrading their potential has been by going back to school for more training.  Inevitably, that admirable tactic has attracted those looking for someone to cheat out of their money.

While there has been some benefit in training and self-improvement by the for-profit academies,  a growing abuse of students, and funds intended for education, has been showing up in their aggressive selling programs and financing for their programs.  The education department has instituted a program with matching aggression to cut off the abuse of finances that were intended for educational benefits.

For-profit colleges that pay recruiters on the basis of the number of students they sign up may lose access to U.S. government student aid, which provided the colleges with $26.5 billion last year and can account for as much as 90 percent of company revenue.

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The Department of Education, seeking to strengthen oversight of the for-profit college sector, is considering boosting fines and disqualifying colleges from participating in federal-aid programs when they give bonuses to admissions officers for enrolling more students, said James Kvaal, deputy undersecretary of education, in a telephone interview.

For-profit colleges got about 23 percent of all federal student grants and loans that went to U.S. universities in 2008-09, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, while educating about 12 percent of all students.

The Education Department has never made a college ineligible for financial aid programs for incentive-compensation violations and stopped considering the penalty in 2002 under the Bush administration. Mr. Kvaal declined to say when officials would decide whether to restore the enforcement measure….For-profit colleges are permitted to get up to 90 percent of their revenue from U.S. student grants and loans.

Desperate for work, faced with endless unanswered applications, jobseekers have proved especially vulnerable by marketing that presents an improved prospect for students with shiny new degrees.  The profits generated for the for-profit institutions bear no relation directly to the employability of the students that the institutions market.

There is a particularly egregious sheen to the shilling of education that the for-profit institutions exercise.  When it cheats the educational system out of badly needed funding while taking advantage of potential workers, it is a crime.

The elimination of cheating would go a long way toward increasing funds available for actual students, at actual academic facilities.