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For-Profits, Not Students | The Nation

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For-Profits, Not Students

The Center for American Progress's invaluable daily newsletter, The Progress Report, has a good report on proposed new regulations to govern the for-profit college industry:

"The Department of Education under the Obama administration has proposed new regulations to govern the for-profit college industry, which has grown into a $30 billion business within the higher education sector. These schools -- like the University of Phoenix, Kaplan University, and Strayer University -- say that they cater to underserved segments of the population that can't access more traditional institutions of higher education. "We educate the students that traditional  higher education has given up on," said Harris Miller, President of the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities, the for-profit college industry's main lobbying arm. While that is a laudable goal, for-profit schools rely on student access to Pell Grants and guaranteed student loans, yet so little of that taxpayer investment results in student success, and the colleges still profit mightily. For-profit graduates account for a disproportionate amount of student loan defaults and many leave school with heavy debts and without the ability to find a high-paying job. The "granddaddy" of the for-profit college industry is the University of Phoenix, which was created in 1976 by humanities professor John Sperling, who believed he could "mass produce education and run his school more like a corporation than a university." To that end, for-profit universities operate under a different model than do public universities (such as the University of California) or private, non-profit universities (such as Boston College or Cornell University). For-profit colleges engage in  intense recruiting and outreach campaigns, dedicating up to 30 percent of their revenue to advertising and marketing. And to stave off increased regulation by the administration, for-profit schools have hired a phalanx of DC lobbyists. The industry spent more than $6 million lobbying in 2010, and gave millions more in contributions to congressional campaigns and political action committees. Miller claims that the attempt to regulate these schools is "attack by anecdote," but the available data clearly shows that for-profit colleges are taking advantage of students while reaping profits at the expense of taxpayers." 

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