The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

—or “BE POOR
—If You Go to Baker College

Oct 30, 2023

Federal investigators from the Department of Education have been reviewing the marketing and recruitment practices of Baker College, a pioneer in online learning that had grown to be the largest private non-profit school in Michigan.

A 2022 investigative report by ProPublica and the Detroit Free Press detailed the college’s low graduation rates and the heavy debt that many students had assumed. The federal probe is to determine whether or not Baker lived up to its promises to prospective students as to cost, financial aid, and post-graduation salaries. The school advertised “Be More with a degree from Baker College.” If it is found to be deceptive and negligent, Baker College could lose its accreditation and its access to federal student aid.

This federal student aid is at the center of the problem. In 1977, Baker College converted to non-profit status, and it grew fast, propelled by federal Pell grants and federally subsidized student loans. Lower-income students often turned to these federal loans.

It was a success story—until it wasn’t. For years, Baker College made promises to students about their programs and students’ job prospects after graduation, all the while raking in huge sums of government money. But, some former students have described how they had left Baker without the skills necessary to succeed in well-paying jobs. And they were burdened by crushing debt.

Baker College is only one of many colleges and universities in the United States that have profited from federal loans, very often at students’ expense. It is part of a pattern when it comes to the way education is set up in this for-profit system.