If you made $42,000,000 per year, wouldn’t you want to maintain the status quo?
That’s how much the president of one for-profit college company was paid in 2009. And that may be the reason why the industry’s lobbying and PR machine has launched a full-court press to thwart the U.S. Department of Education’s attempts to regulate these institutions.
No question: The sector needs regulation. Too many for-profit students end up like Michigan resident Brian M., an Air Force veteran and father of three. Brian went to a for-profit college to get a bachelor’s degree in computer programming. Recruiters rushed him into a contract—and waited until after he signed it to tell him that his federal financial aid wouldn’t cover his tuition, meaning he also needed to take out a fortune in high-cost private loans. Several years and more than $70,000 later, Brian says his degree is virtually worthless—employers are unimpressed by the credential, making him eligible only for low-paid work, the quality of his education was so poor that he has a steep learning curve at new jobs, and he faces the very real fear that he’ll never get into an advanced degree program—except by returning to that for-profit.
“What they’re charging for what you’re getting – it’s not right,” he said.
Things end up worse for the many students who don’t even get a degree—just the debt. For example, among students seeking bachelor’s degrees, the University of Phoenix’s six-year graduation rate is a paltry 9 percent. And even though for-profits only make up 12 percent of enrollments and 24 percent of federal loan dollars, they produce 43 percent of federal loan defaults. What’s even more maddening? The American people are unwittingly the single largest investor in these companies—to the tune of about $24 billion in federal student financial aid in 2008-09 alone—despite the fact that these institutions are not graduating their students.
The for-profits want to keep their businesses booming. Recently, in a sleazy (but shrewd) political maneuver, they successfully lobbied the Republican-controlled House of Representatives to pass an amendment that would cut off the funding for regulation of their most toxic programs.
Please join us in standing up for students and taxpayers. Urge your senators to block this effort.