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Some U of Phoenix Programs Fail Gainful Employment Standard

Academic programs enrolling roughly 16 percent of the University of Phoenix's student population do not pass the federal government's new gainful employment rule, according to a financial filing from the Apollo Education Group, the university's owner. Those programs failed the regulation's two student debt-to-earnings standards. The department recently released its first round of draft data for affected programs, with a scheduled January release for the final data sets.

Apollo previously had said it was winding down academic programs that were likely to not pass the standards. Those programs now represent one-fifth of the university's degree-pursuing student enrollment.

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Xerox Education to Pay $2.4M in Agreement With Massachusetts AG

Student loan servicer Xerox Education Services will pay $2.4 million in a settlement agreement over allegations it mishandled students borrowers' applications for income-based repayment plans, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced Tuesday.

Xerox -- known as ACS Education Services when the state launched its investigation -- serviced both federally backed student loans under the FFEL program and private student loans. The attorney general's office alleged that the company charged excessive late fees, did not protect active-duty service members and made calls to borrowers multiple times a week.

"To address this student debt crisis, we need students to be on repayment plans that will help them succeed, not fall further into debt," Healey said.

But the company undermined students' ability to enroll in those repayment plans, the attorney general said.

A portion of the settlement money will go toward restitution of the Massachusetts borrowers unable to enroll in lower payment plans. The company will also create a "borrower advocacy group" to provide assistance to borrowers looking to enroll in the plans in the future. The group will also provide information on federal loan discharge applications to students with loans associated with shuttered for-profits like Corinthian Colleges and ITT Technical Institute.

Healey has been aggressive in pursuing both loan servicing companies and for-profit colleges for alleged misconduct. Earlier this summer, American Career Institute -- a for-profit college Healey sued in 2013 -- admitted to deceptive practices and violating state law. And Healey has pushed for clear federal standards for former students of institutions like Corinthian to seek cancellation of their student loan debt.

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Trump Will Pay $25M to Settle Trump U Litigation

President-elect Donald Trump has agreed to pay $25 million to settle multiple suits that charge Trump University with swindling its students. New York's attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, sued Trump in 2013. The settlement also covers other suits against Trump over Trump University. Trump has to date denied wrongdoing, and accused Schneiderman of playing politics with the suit. Trump University was not a typical for-profit university, as it operated outside standard licensure and accreditation requirements and, as a result, its students did not use federal aid. In fact, Trump University was never a university, and changed its name to Trump Entrepreneur Initiative when New York State officials said it could not call itself a university.

Schneiderman issued this statement: "In 2013, my office sued Donald Trump for swindling thousands of innocent Americans out of ​millions of dollars through a scheme known at Trump University. Donald Trump fought us every step of the way, filing baseless charges and fruitless appeal​s​ and refusing to settle for even modest amounts of compensation for the victims of his phony university. Today, that all changes. Today's $25 million settlement agreement is a stunning reversal by Donald Trump and a major victory for the over 6,000 victims of his fraudulent university. I am pleased that under the terms of this settlement, every victim will receive restitution and that Donald Trump will pay up to $1 million in penalties to the State of New York for violating state education laws. The victims of Trump University have waited years for today's result and I am pleased that their patience -- and persistence -- will be rewarded by this $25 million settlement."

President-elect Trump's transition press office did not respond immediately to a request for comment. However, Trump tweeted about the settlement on Saturday.

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Education Department releases gainful employment data for vocational programs

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Graduates who earned certificates at public institutions have larger salaries, but there is wide variation between programs even at the same institutions.

Gingrich Backs For-Profit Group's Campaign

Newt Gingrich and U.S. Representative Pete Sessions, a Texas Republican, are slated to join Career Education Colleges and Universities at an event Friday. The group, which is the primary trade organization for the for-profit sector, is announcing a new campaign to close the skills gap with five million trained professionals. Gingrich, the former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and a prominent adviser to President-elect Donald Trump, in August appeared in a web video with Steve Gunderson, the for-profit group's president and CEO.

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Panel Says Deregulation of For-Profits Is Likely

Leading critics and supporters of the for-profit college industry gathered on a panel at the Cato Institute Wednesday to discuss the sector's future of under President-elect Donald Trump. The six panelists agreed on one point: nobody really knows what to expect, given Trump’s unpredictability.

It’s certainly a possibility that Trump will be inclined to roll back regulations that have been imposed on the beleaguered industry, said Barmak Nassirian, director of federal relations and policy analysis at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, and Eric Juhlin, CEO at the Center for Excellence in Higher Education. However, they agreed that a total deregulation of the industry was unlikely. It’s also possible that the U.S. Congress will make many of the significant policy decisions concerning the for-profit industry, agreed Nassirian and Ben Miller, senior director of postsecondary education at the Center for American Progress.

The panelists could not say with certainty who Trump’s pick for education secretary will be, although it’s likely that the position will go to someone with more K-12 policy experience than higher education experience, said Neal McCluskey, director of the Center for Educational Freedom at the Cato Institute.

The panelists were less willing to agree on the Obama’s administration legacy with the for-profit industry. The Education Department under Obama will be known for its disproportionate focus on regulating for-profits, said McCluskey. But Robert Shireman, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation who previously played a prominent role in the department's crackdown on the industry, thought differently: history will show that the for-profit industry shot itself in the foot, he said.

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North Dakota Eliminates State Authorization Office

The North Dakota University System has eliminated the office that authorizes colleges to issue degrees in the state, either on-site or via distance education. A spokeswoman for the system confirmed the move via email, saying there had been a reduction in force due to budgetary constraints. She said the duties would be reassigned.

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Education Dept. Backs Defunct For-Profit in Fight With Accreditor

U.S. Education Secretary John King Jr. last week affirmed an administrative judge's March ruling that relieved now-defunct Decker College of a $31.6 million repayment the Education Department demanded the for-profit institution make in 2005. The administrative judge had ruled that the department based its finding at that time on misinformation provided by Decker's accreditor, the Council on Occupational Education, which Decker officials have argued helped push the college into bankruptcy and ultimately destroy it. The Federal Student Aid office -- part of King's own department -- appealed the administrative judge's ruling to the secretary.

King's affirmation letter was unusually frank and expansive in explaining why he rejected his own agency's appeal. The department's decision is also likely to clear the way for a lawsuit -- which has been stayed pending resolution of this situation -- in which Decker is suing the accrediting council over its misrepresentations. (Note: This item has been updated from an earlier version to correct some errors.)

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Judge Halts ITT Tech Lawsuits

A bankruptcy judge on Wednesday temporarily barred regulators from continuing lawsuits against the defunct ITT Educational Services, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the state of New Mexico each have launched litigation against the for-profit parent company of ITT Technical Institutes for allegedly defrauding students and investors in connection with a private loan program. Massachusetts is also suing ITT for allegedly misleading students with false job-placement statistics.

ITT Tech closed its campuses in September after being sanctioned by the U.S. Department of Education. On Wednesday, the judge said regulators would have to wait to move forward with litigation until after the bankruptcy proceedings or at least until Dec. 21.

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10-Campus For-Profit Chain Shuts Down

Heritage College, a for-profit with 10 campuses around the country, is shutting down, apparently immediately, according to press reports in some areas where Heritage has operated. No information is available on why the colleges are being shut down. Heritage operates in Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio and Oklahoma.

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