August 17, 2016
Pile of Textbooks

Experts Warn Competency-Based Education Can Be Abused, pt. 2

Editor’s note from David Halperin: Last week, we posted a piece reporting concerns by a leading higher education expert (who asked not to be identified by name because of job concerns) that lobbying could weaken protections in federal laws governing competency-based education (CBE), and that such changes could increase the ability of unethical institutions to defraud students and taxpayers. The piece seemed to touch a nerve — it caused a minor freakout on Twitter and elsewhere by some executives in the CBE world.

Another experienced expert, Raul Valdes Pages, reached out to me to share his own views on CBE. Raul was the founder and CEO …

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August 12, 2016

At Risk: For-Profit College Converts To Non-Profit Status

The U.S. Department of Education yesterday took a momentous step, deciding that the CollegeAmerica / Stevens-Henager / CEHE chain of colleges, despite formally converting from a for-profit to a non-profit enterprise, is still acting like a self-interested business corporation, rather than a charitable institution, and thus should remain subject to the handful of rules that apply only to for-profits. These rules include the bare requirement that for-profit colleges, to demonstrate their worth, get no more than 90 percent of their revenue from the Department of Education itself; many for-profit chains have been coming perilously close to that line.

The …

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June 8, 2016

Why We Need A Strong Student Debt Relief Rule

The Obama Administration is on the verge of issuing a proposed rule that would create new procedures and standards for cancelling the federal student loan debt of people who were defrauded by their colleges. The rule would also create new standards for the Department of Education to require colleges to post escalating letters of credit based on concerns about their operations. And it would ban or limit the ability of a college receiving federal aid to force students to resolve claims in private, secret arbitrations, rather than in court.

There were several months of public negotiations on a rule

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June 6, 2016

As APSCU Meeting Opens, Ex-Members Make Big News

The for-profit college trade association APSCU opened its conference today in Orlando, and amid sessions about dealing with increased government scrutiny after APSCU’s failed lobbying strategy, there was news about two former APSCU members:

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey today announced a June 2 agreement under which for-profit American Career Institute (ACI), which shut down abruptly in 2013, has admitted to deceiving students and falsifying documents.  According to Healey, in 2012 alone, ACI received more than $30 million in federal student aid, about 89 percent of its total revenue.  Healey alleged, and ACI admitted, according to Healey’s press release

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May 24, 2016

The Perfect Lobby: How One Industry Captured Washington, DC

This article, which originally was published (April 3, 2014) in The Nation, is adapted from David Halperin’s e-book, Stealing America’s Future: How For-Profit Colleges Scam Taxpayers and Ruin Students’ Lives, available at Amazon.

Many of America’s for-profit colleges have proven themselves a bad deal for the students lured by their enticing promises—as well as for US taxpayers, who subsidize these institutions with ten of billions annually in federal student aid.

More than half of the students who enroll in for-profit colleges—many of them veterans, single mothers and other low- and middle-income people aiming for jobs like medical technician, diesel mechanic or …

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March 11, 2016

Dept of Educ Wants To End “Outrageous” Forced Arbitration by For-Profit Colleges

The Department of Education tonight released a new draft of regulations on student debt relief, in advance of the third round of rulemaking meetings to be held next week, and in a press release (see below) accompanying the proposal the Department appears to take a hard line against the fine-print language that for-profit colleges have been using to force students to resolve their disputes with a school through secretive arbitration proceedings, rather than in court.

The draft regulations appear to follow suit, laying out two options regarding mandatory arbitration, including one that requires schools participating in the …

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March 8, 2016

Appeals Court Rejects For-Profit College Attack on Obama Rule

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington DC this morning rejected the for-profit college trade group’s challenge to the Obama Administration’s gainful employment rule, a regulation that holds career training programs accountable for consistently leaving students with overwhelming debt.  Perhaps recognizing that the war of words over the rule had gone on long enough and that the case was not a close call, the Court of Appeals issued a brief four-page opinion affirming a trial court’s rejection of the challenge brought by the troubled trade group APSCU. The appeals court noted that …

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February 12, 2016

A New U. of Phoenix? Or Just New TV Ads?

On Monday, the University of Phoenix’s owner, Apollo Education Group, announced a $1.1 billion deal to be acquired by a group of investors including Apollo Global Management (no relation) and the Vistria Group, a private equity firm that includes Tony Miller, who was Deputy Secretary of Education under President Obama from 2009-2013. Miller would become Chairman of the Apollo Education Group Board.

The University of Phoenix, by far the largest for-profit college, has seen a dramatic decline in enrollments and revenues in recent years, as the public has become aware of abuses and poor performance at the school and in its sector. But …

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