NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- "You get what you pay for," that popular axiom for consumers, was also a stark reminder to investors in for-profit education companies, an industry under constant government scrutiny.
Likewise, University of Phoenix operator Apollo Education Group (APOL) (up 22%) and Capella Education (CPLA) (up 12%) have done well, beating the 11.7% gain in the S&P 500 (SPY) and the 7.20% gain in the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) .
Others weren't so lucky, however. Take a look at the chart below, courtesy of YCharts.
COCO data by YCharts
The industry's biggest loser, Education Management Corporation (EDMC) lost more than 97% of its value. Corinthian Colleges (COCO) lost 96% and shares now trade for less than 10 cents. Then there's ITT Educational Services (ESI) , which lost more than 72% of its value. And the reason is clear.
Over the past several years, these so-called "private institutions" have marketed themselves by offering a quality education and a better way of life. But as their profits grew, their students were left with mounds of debt, drawing the attention of U.S. lawmakers.