Kaplan University Online promises convenient college degrees paid for with easy federal aid. But for many students, all they deliver is debt, unethical practices and misleading claims. Who cashes in? The Washington Post Company, which owns the lucrative chain of colleges and lends its stellar reputation to a scam for low-income students. Shannon Croteau was 11 classes away from a degree from Kaplan University Online when she learned she was out of financial aid, owed $30,000 and that the degree would be worthless in her state of New Hampshire. Croteau had been told by Kaplan -- a lucrative chain of "for-profit" colleges owned by the Washington Post Company -- that she could make more than $65,000 a year as a paralegal. Getting financial aid from the government was easy, they said, and earning a degree would be a snap. "For-profit" colleges like Kaplan and the University of Phoenix target low-income students, promising easy degrees and online courses. Instead, Croteau, and millions of other students, end up victims of an industry that siphoned off more than $4.3 billion dollars of federal student aid in 2008-2009 alone. Few students graduate -- the University of Phoenix's graduation rate is 9 percent. Those who do are often drowning in debt, or find that the lucrative jobs they'd been promised don't exist. Even after an explosive government report uncovered deceptive practices at 16 out of 16 colleges investigated, the for-profit industry - including Washington Post Co. Chairman Donald Graham - denies all wrong-doing and continues to fight government regulation. A group of former Kaplan University Students are banding together to set the record straight. Led by Shannon Croteau, they're demanding that Graham, and the Washington Post Company, shut down their broken chain of colleges until changes are made. Stand with these former students and demand that Washington Post Chairman Donald Graham commit to shutting down admissions to Kaplan unless meaningful reform happens.
More and more former Kaplan students are coming forward with horror stories about the bogus classes, surprise fees and deceptive policies they encountered as they struggled to achieve the American dream.
This massive nationwide controversy is a black mark on the name of the Washington Post. To date, the Washington Post's leadership has denied these stories and discounted their truth. As you've seen, this has only led to lawsuits, media stories and a more negative reputation for the Post, for Kaplan and the entire for-profit college industry.
To resolve the myriad complaints from students in the spirit in which they are made, Kaplan and the Washington Post must commit to creating an independent third-party office to moderate and resolve the many issues held by current students and former students.
As Directors of the Washington Post Company, you have the power to make this right. Please publicly commit to creating a third-party office to resolve student complaints.