April 18, 2012

Virginia Foxx Defends Student Debt While Predatory Colleges Who Create Debt Fund Her Campaign

Virginia Foxx Defends Student Debt While Predatory Colleges Who Create Debt Fund Her Campaign
Rep. Virginia Foxx

Last week, ThinkProgress’s Scott Keyes found an amazing interview with Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) where she totally dismissed the concerns of students who have large amounts of debt as a result of getting an education. “I have very little tolerance for people who tell me that they graduate with $200,000 of debt or even $80,000 of debt because there’s no reason for that,” she told a radio host. She also complained that students want success “dumped in their lap.”  Listen to it:

Many commentators have prescribed Foxx’s harsh words as evidence of her being motivated by callous ideology. While it is possible that this is one of her motivations, there’s one other very big factor at play here.

Foxx is one of Congress’s most outspoken proponents of for-profit colleges — an industry rife with scam schools that charge students exorbitant tuition and fees. This veritable subprime school industry gets the majority of its funding through federal loans and grants that students use to afford school.  “About 87 percent of the revenue at the biggest for-profits comes from federal taxpayers, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. They belong to a class of company that I call Subsidy Sucklers,” writes the Washington Examiner’s Tim Carney. Records show that executives at the top 15 of these for-profit schools “also received $2 billion during the last seven years from the proceeds of selling company stock,” with Strayer’s chairman earning “$41.9 million last year. That’s 26 times the compensation of the highest-paid president of a traditional university.”

Because the outcomes at these schools are so poor — the students who attend them account for 44 percent of the nation’s loan defaults despite being only 11 percent of the country’s student population — federal regulators have repeatedly tried to pass new regulations that say that schools where huge portions of graduates can’t find work and are buried in debt shouldn’t be getting federal dollars. But Congress keeps voting against these regulations.

Among the top 20 financial contributors to Foxx in the 2011-2012 cycle are the Association of Private Sector Colleges/Universities, the Apollo Group (owner of the University of Phoenix), and Corinthian Colleges,” reports Salon’s Andrew Leonard. “Since federal student loans comprise the vast majority of the revenues of those for-profit schools, it follows that their campaign contributions to Foxx are also made possible by U.S. taxpayers.”

So to recap, Foxx is blaming students for their student debt. She then is defending federal loans to for-profit colleges that create this debt with their poor quality education and high tuition. Finally, these companies then turn around and use this federal money to give her campaign contributions.

It’s a perfect racket for Foxx, and it’s one that’s only possible because of the corrupting influence of money in politics.