Segments in this Video

Homelessness and Education (02:35)


In 2012, Hollie Harsh and Brian Frencg attend Heald College. They obtain federal student loans totaling $30,000, setup their tent next to campus, and begin classes.

For-Profit College Boom (03:35)

Around 1.8 million students are enrolled in for-profit colleges around the country. These schools target students using massive advertising budgets and many salespeople. “

Dubious Practices (03:25)

Potential students think they are speaking to enrollment advisers when they are actually salespeople trained to target vulnerabilities. For-profit schools charge five times the admission of community colleges, the bulk of their revenue coming from student loans and grants.

Congressional Investigation (02:47)

Lawmakers begin paying attention to the practices of for-profit colleges. In hearings, some are accused of employing false or misleading advertising and using illegal recruitment efforts. Investigators also find for-profit schools are failing to prepare students for the workforce; the Department of Education attempts to regulate the industry but meets intense resistance.

Market and Borrowers (02:49)

Smith visits banker Trace Urdan to discuss sub-prime borrowers and a downturn in the for-profit college market. He revisits Martha Salmon, an Everest College student, and learns her degree yielded no work. She has since obtained a valid nursing degree from a community college.

Lawsuit Against Corinthian (02:34)

California Attorney General Kamala Harris investigates the industry in 2011 and files a lawsuit against Corinthian Colleges. Her office interviews dozens of employees and students, including Harsh and French.

Corinthian Colleges Close (02:56)

Corinthian becomes the prime example of predatory schools; videos lampooning the company flood YouTube. Officials in Washington end federal funds to Corinthian and on April 26, 2015, thousands of students learn of the largest college shut-down in history.

Debt Collectors Buy Schools (04:54)

Department of Education officials broker the sale of 53 Corinthian campuses. The buyer is a non-profit specializing in student debt collection. Smith interviews Zenith Education Group CEO Peter Taylor, ECMC General Counsel Dan Fisher, and United States Secretary of Education John King, Jr.

Gainful Employment Rule (02:25)

The rule, implemented in 2015, gives schools three years to prove they place students in jobs that pay enough to afford student loans. The Department of Education launches a new enforcement unit, promising to more closely monitor for-profit schools.

Education of Omarina (03:09)

The second half of this “Frontline” episode retraces six years in the life of Bronx-based student, Omarina Cabrera. She details struggles that created barriers to her education. Researcher Robert Balfanz identifies patterns that lead to students dropping out.

Intervention for Cabrera (03:25)

Middle School 244 has implemented an intervention program based on Balfanz’s research. Homeroom teacher Catherine Miller confronts Cabrera after she is repeatedly tardy. The student alludes to her chaotic home life and bad influences she and her twin brother, Omarlin, must navigate.

Cabrera Attends Prep School (03:34)

Cabrera achieves perfect grades and attendance, and her teacher encourages her to apply to competitive prep schools beyond New York City. She receives a full scholarship to Brooks. At first, Cabrera worries about fitting in and struggles to keep up in class, but Miller provides support.

Cabrera's Brother Shot (03:41)

Omarlin is shot, but survives. Cabrera makes regular trips to the Bronx, juggling the demands of school work and her sense of responsibility.

College and Imprisonment (02:56)

Cabrera must decide where and if she will go to college. Her brother is expecting a baby, and he is sent to Rikers Island after pleading guilty to attempted robbery. Stress causes Cabrera to lose focus, and Miller drives to Brooks to intervene.

College Acceptance (02:56)

Cabrera applies to colleges with the help of Miller and the staff of Brooks. She is ecstatic when she is accepted to George Washington University with financial aid.

College Graduation (03:10)

Balfanz contrasts the lives of Cabrera and her brother, who receives a 3 ½-year prison sentence. Cabrera receives the Trustee’s Prize at her graduation.

Credits: Frontline: A Subprime Education (00:60)

Credits: Frontline: A Subprime Education

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Frontline: A Subprime Education

3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



Correspondent Martin Smith returns to the story of for-profit colleges to investigate allegations of fraud and predatory behavior in the troubled industry. The colleges say they're expanding access to education and preparing students for success, but Smith finds that, in many cases, they're just collecting money and leaving students in debt, without degrees and unprepared to face the job market. "In an effort to get students in the door, and federal student loan money flowing their way, many for-profit colleges have acted like banks did during the subprime mortgage bubble: signing up virtually anyone, including homeless people and drug addicts," says Smith. Drawing on interviews with regulators, executives and former students, the film examines the collapse of the for-profit Corinthian Colleges chain, one of the largest college shutdowns in history. With more than 1.8 million students enrolled in for-profit schools across the country, A Subprime Education is a must-watch look inside a sector that's in the hot seat. Also, The Education of Omarina shows how an innovative program to stem the high school dropout crisis has affected a young woman from the Bronx's journey, from a public middle school to an elite New England private school, and now college.

Length: 54 minutes

Item#: BVL166783

Copyright date: ©2016

Closed Captioned

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