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Some Beauty Schools Are Total Scams

Sham schools have left students deep in debt with no job prospects

There are dozens of beauty schools in New York City and most of them are perfectly reputable. But then there's schools like Jon Louis School of Beauty in the Bronx, where Amarilis Madera went to learn hair and makeup. Madera attended the school more than 17 years ago, and was promised a huge scholarship and job placement support. None of that materialized, and instead of working in the field, Madera ended up getting a low-paying job in childcare.

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That's because Jon Louis, and several other schools in the city weren't actually teaching their students. Instead, they were using their registration rolls to obtain hundreds of thousands in student loan dollars. The money never actually went to the students, of course -- students weren't even aware that the loans existed -- but instead went straight into the school's coffers.

In recent years, schools like Jon Louis and fellow NYC school the Wilfred Academy have closed after being accused or indicted of misusing federal loan money. But students were still expected to pay off the debts -- for educations that were subpar at best and non-existent at worst.

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There is now an active campaign to have the federal government discharge or erase the debt, so that women like Amarilis Madera don't have their bank accounts drained and credit ruined in order to pay for the school's blatant theft.

"Schools are targeting low-income people and people of color for the sole purpose of drawing down large sums of federal aid dollars," said Herman de Jesus of the New Economy Project, which is working to erase the debt. In the beauty school model, he continued, the schools, "have no intention of providing them with a quality education."



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