U.S. tax dollars are financing for-profit medical schools in the Caribbean that are not accredited, putting taxpayers, students and patients at risk. The U.S. may face a doctor shortage, but this isn’t the way to fix it.

Thanks to a legal loophole, three schools — American University of the Caribbean in St. Maarten and Ross University in Dominica, both owned by DeVry Inc., and privately owned St. George’s University in Grenada — received about $450 million last year in federal student loans. A fourth school, Saba University School of Medicine, will soon be able to receive federal money as well.

Students at AUC and Ross have lower test scores, are less likely to graduate, take longer to do so, and are less likely to become practicing doctors if they do. Class sizes are larger, and they cost more.

These schools also pay U.S. teaching hospitals to get their students clinical training slots, which are necessary to complete medical school. That takes spots away from students at U.S. schools. If less-qualified students are able to buy their way into teaching hospitals, it raises the danger that patients will get lower-quality care.

And if those same students aren’t able to become licensed doctors, they’re at greater risk of defaulting on their loans, leaving taxpayers on the hook.

Bloomberg News (Sept. 10)