May 6, 2014

Suze Orman Warns Against Private Student Loans, Yet Teaches at University of Phoenix

Last year I reported that Suze Orman had been hired by the University of Phoenix to teach an online personal finance course and had appeared at a Capitol Hill event where she promoted the school, which is the largest for-profit college in the country.  It was difficult to understand how a woman who proclaims herself “undeniably America’s most recognized expert on personal finance” could accept such a role when, for many people, enrolling at a for-profit college can be the worst financial decision they make in their entire lives.  While some graduates …

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May 5, 2014
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Exposed: For-Profit Colleges’ Blueprint for Blocking Obama Regulations

Posted on the website of an accounting firm in Puerto Rico is a revealing PowerPoint presentation dated February 20, 2014, and credited to Steve Gunderson, the CEO of APSCU, the trade association of for-profit colleges. It outlines APSCU’s plan for defeating the Obama Administration’s key regulation aimed at holding for-profit colleges accountable for leaving students with insurmountable debt.

Gunderson’s presentation was in fact one of several apparently delivered by for-profit college representatives and advisors at a February APSCU meeting in Puerto Rico.  Collectively, these documents provide some valuable insights into the troubled for-profit college industry.

The Gunderson PowerPoint document lays out …

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May 2, 2014
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Washington Post Opposes Regulating For-Profit Colleges Without Disclosing Publisher’s Stake In The Industry

This week the Washington Post editorialized against President Obama’s “gainful employment” rule, aimed at holding career training programs accountable for leaving students with insurmountable debt, without disclosing that the newspaper’s publisher, Katharine Weymouth, serves on the board of directors of a company that owns for-profit colleges and that is lobbying actively against the rule.

An April 27 masthead opinion from the Post’s editorial board declared that the gainful employment rule would “make it more difficult for poor Americans to earn a secondary degree” and cited favorably arguments made by Steve Gunderson, the head of the for-profit colleges trade association, APSCU. …

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May 1, 2014
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Study: Blacks, Latinos, Low-Income Live Closest to Dangerous Chemical Plants

A new study released today finds that the Americans who live near hazardous chemical industrial facilities are disproportionately African American or Latino, are more likely to live in poverty, and have lower incomes and education levels than the national average.  These trends accelerate rapidly as one gets closer to the “fenceline” areas nearest dangerous chemical plants.

More than 134 million people live in danger zones created by about 3400 U.S. facilities that manufacture chemicals, produce paper, treat water, generate electric power, refine petroleum, or otherwise use or store hazardous materials.  Millions more people work in or visit these areas. …

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April 28, 2014
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For-Profit College Offers Students Pizza To Lobby Against Obama Regulation

While it storms government offices with high-priced lobbyists, the for-profit college industry also is aiming to flood Washington with cards and letters from their students and staff opposing President Obama’s gainful employment rule. This proposed regulation would, sensibly, cut off federal aid to career education programs that consistently leave students with debts they cannot repay.  Much to the disgust of teachers and other staff of these schools who reach out to me on a steady basis, predatory for-profit colleges are pressuring staff to write to the Administration and Congress, and offering students a slice of pizza, as well as …

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April 28, 2014
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For-Profit Colleges Spend Big On Lobbyists to Fight Obama Regulation

With the May 27 deadline approaching to submit comments to the U.S. Department of Education, big for-profit colleges are pulling out all the stops to gut the Obama Administration’s proposed “gainful employment” rule, which is aimed at curbing predatory career training programs.  Taking some of the $33 billion a year they’ve been getting from taxpayers, the industry is spending big on lobbyists, with a continued heavy emphasis on hiring former Members of Congress and ex-Capitol Hill staffers. Buttressed by a steady flow of campaign contributions from the for-profit college industry to legislators, these lobbyists lean on their former …

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April 8, 2014
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Jeb Bush To Address Convention of Predatory For-Profit Colleges

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush (R) will be the keynote speaker at the Las Vegas annual convention of the trade association of for-profit colleges, APSCU, according to the group’s website.  Although some reputable, responsible colleges are members of APSCU, the organization is dominated by large companies, many of which — Corinthian, ITT, Education Management Corp., Kaplan, Career Education Corp., DeVry — are now under investigation by federal law enforcement agencies, state attorneys general, or both. Pending lawsuits brought by government authorities charge that big for-profit colleges have engaged in deceptive advertising; coercive boiler room recruiting targeted at …

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April 3, 2014
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More Probes, Oversight (and Dress Codes) for Predatory For-Profit Colleges

The for-profit college industry is lobbying furiously to prevent the Obama Administration from issuing a strong “gainful employment” rule that would cut off aid to career training programs that consistently leave students with insurmountable debt. But around the country this week there is more evidence that major players in this industry have been engaged in abusive, predatory behavior– and that law enforcement agencies and prospective students alike are getting the message:

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley today sued Corinthian Colleges in Suffolk Superior Court, stating, “We allege that this for-profit school aggressively recruited and misled students by falsely promising high …Continue Reading »

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