For Your Consideration



Directed by Alexander Shebanow. Executive Produced by Dan Rather.

The Award-Winning Investigative Documentary on Predatory For-Profit Colleges, Trump University, and Betsy DeVos



Executive produced by news legend Dan Rather, Fail State investigates the dark side of American higher education, chronicling the decades of policy decisions in Washington, D.C. that have given rise to a powerful and highly-predatory for-profit college industry. With echoes of the subprime mortgage crisis, the film lays bare how for-profit colleges exploit millions of low-income and minority students, leaving them with worthless degrees and drowning in student loan debt. Combining five years of research and interviews from over 60 experts, policymakers, whistleblowers, and students defrauded by their colleges, director Alexander Shebanow presents a searing exposé on the for-profit college industry and the lawmakers enabling widespread fraud and abuse in American higher education.



"Fail State renewed my faith in the possibility that we can do something about this crisis." 

— Congresswoman Maxine Waters

"A powerful film." 

— Wade Henderson, Civil Rights Leader

"Alexander Shebanow is an unlikely scourge of for-profit education. He's not an academic or a professional policy wonk. He isn't even 30 yet. But as director of the new documentary film Fail State, he goes after for-profit colleges with a ferocity that belies an otherwise gentle demeanor." 

— Lee Gardner, The Chronicle of Higher Education

"A truly eye-opening and crucial exposé of yet another way, not unlike during last decade's subprime mortgage crisis, that vulnerable Americans get hurt just by trying to better their lives."

— Gary Goldstein, The Los Angeles Times

"An expansive and infuriating account of the rise of profit-driven colleges, their devastating effects on low-income students, and the ways Republicans and Democrats have aided and abetted their treachery." 

— Jake Nevins, The Guardian

“An alternately appalling, dispiriting and infuriating documentary.”

— John Anderson, The Wall Street Journal

"An excellent, anger-inducing documentary." 

— G. Allen Johnson, San Francisco Chronicle

"Puts for-profit colleges under the spotlight and finds shameless exploitation." 

— John DeFore, The Hollywood Reporter

"A well-paced, chock-full documentary." 

— Daphne Howland, LA Weekly

"An infuriatingly informative documentary." 

— Dennis Harvey, 48 Hills

"Briskly paced and emotional... a sad story you won't soon forget." 

— Rose Cahalan, Texas Observer


How This Year's Docs Tapped Into the Volatile Political Climate - The Hollywood Reporter

Maxine Waters chastises for-profit colleges and DeVos Leadership - The Hechinger Report

Why these veterans regret their for-profit college degrees — and debt - PBS News Hour

I Found My Voice In Community College - Forbes

Dan Rather on for-profit colleges: ‘It’s hard to find anything more outrageous than this’ - MarketWatch


DOC NYC Q&A with Dan Rather and Alex Shebanow

Premiere with Maxine Waters, Wade Henderson, John B. King, Randi Weingarten, Alex Shebanow, Jillian Berman





Director: Alexander Shebanow

Executive Producer: Dan Rather

Producers: Alexander Shebanow, Julia Glausi, Terrence Crawford, Tyler Comes, 

Adam Bolt, Alan Oxman

Writers: Alexander Shebanow, Regina Sobel, Nicholas Adams

Co-Producers: Elliot Kirschner, Phil Kim, Jennifer Latham

Editor: Regina Sobel

Narration: Gibson Frazier

Composers: Keegan Dewitt, Jeremy Bullock

Researcher: Isabel Ponte

Graphics: BigStar