Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley has broadened her investigation into recruiting and lending practices at for-profit colleges and trade schools, which critics say leave students with mountains of student loan debt, but often do not lead to decent-paying jobs.
Coakley, who began examining a handful of schools two years ago, said she is now looking into whether more than a dozen institutions that do business in Massachusetts misled prospective students about the cost of course work, the odds they would graduate, or the likelihood they would find employment in their field of study.
“The more we look, the more we see it as a real problem,” said Coakley, comparing it to the increase in subprime mortgages during the housing boom, when some lenders encouraged home buyers to take out loans they could not afford or did not understand. “This has potential to be a predatory business.”
There are about 3,000 for-profit schools nationwide, including at least 136 in Massachusetts.