In a segment earlier this week, John Oliver said that student debt, which has tripled in the last decade, “has surpassed Bob Marley’s greatest hits album as the thing every student has.”
He directed his most of his ire towards for-profit colleges that prey on everyone from low-income students to even brain-damaged veterans.
One of the reasons student debt has increased, his segment showed, is that states have slashed funding for hiring education by 23 percent. Public institutions have responded by raising tuition rates, which force students to take out more loans. And one of the biggest drivers of student debt in the US is for-profit schools such as the University of Phoenix and Everest College, which are five to six times the cost of a community college and as much as twice the cost of a state university. They account for a third of all student debt, but only account for 13 percent of students.
To the claim of a former director of the University of Phoenix that a quarter of for-profit schools’ budgets go toward marketing, and only about 10 – 20 percent for teachers, Oliver quipped, “Hey teachers, we’re not saying you don’t matter, we’re just saying ads about you matter twice as much.”
One nursing student -- who sued Corinthian College and won -- said she never set foot in a hospital during her education there. Instead, she was escorted on a class trip to a museum of Scientology for her psychiatric rotation. “Going to the museum of Scientology for your psychiatric rotation,” says Oliver about the famously anti-psychiatry group, “is certifiably insane or evidence of a buildup in your Thetans.”
Daniel Golden, a reporter for Bloomberg News, described a visit to a marine base in North Carolina, where he found a for-profit college recruiting brain-injured marines who “had difficulty remembering what courses they had signed up for."
Student debt, clearly, isn’t going anywhere. Oliver said, “Student debt is like HPV: If you go to college, you’re almost certain to get it, and if you do, it will follow you forever. “
Watch the segment here: