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Education Department approves Apollo deal but with conditions

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University of Phoenix owner is one step closer to changing ownership with Education Department's approval, but only if the new owners agree to new conditions.

Education Department Blocks Aid for 2 For-Profits

The U.S. Department of Education said Tuesday it would block for-profit colleges Globe University and the Minnesota School of Business from receiving additional federal student aid.

As of Dec. 31, students will no longer be able to use funds from Pell Grants or federal direct loans at those institutions, which are jointly owned. The Federal Student Aid Enforcement Unit found that the programs committed fraud involving Title IV funds and misrepresented their criminal justice programs as well as the ability to transfer their credits to other colleges.

Globe enrolls about 1,000 students at 10 locations across the Midwest, and Minnesota School of Business enrolls about 700 students in Minnesota.

“Globe and MSB preyed upon potential public servants -- targeting those with a sincere desire to help their communities,” Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell said in a written statement. “These institutions misrepresented their programs, potentially misleading students, and abused taxpayer funds, and so violated federal law, which is why we removed them from the federal student aid program. This is a sober reminder that not all institutions deliver on their advertised promises.”

The department blocked access to Title IV aid for new students enrolling at ITT Technical Institutes in August -- a serious blow that was followed the next month by an announcement that the for-profit would close its doors at campuses across the country.

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Udacity and boot camps offer money-back guarantees for job placement

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Udacity and some boot camps offer money-back guarantees despite state bans on job-placement promises in higher education. But some say the offers are a form of risk sharing worth considering.

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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