On the heels of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s announcement last week that it was suing for-profit education giant ITT Educational Services for engaging in predatory lending practices, one Democratic senator is calling on the Department of Education to also investigate the company. Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois, a Democrat and longtime critic of for-profit colleges, on Friday sent a letter urging Education Secretary Arne Duncan “to investigate these troubling accusations and scrutinize ITT’s participation” in federal student aid programs.
Durbin also sent a letter to ITT’s accreditor, the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, calling for the agency to “hold ITT accountable.”
Durbin previously sent similar letters to the Education Department in December asking for an investigation of Corinthian Colleges after a Huffington Postarticle said the company had hired graduates temporarily to artificially boost Corinthian's job placement rates.
An article in The New York Times explores the charges in a lawsuit against Premier Education Group, which operates for-profit colleges in 10 states. Officials of the colleges maintain that they are being sued unfairly by "misguided" or disgruntled former employees. The suit charges that the colleges admit students in part by misleading them about their chances of getting jobs. An example: One of the ex-employees who sued said she became concerned when she noticed an electronic ankle monitor on a student in a pharmacy program for which certification would likely exclude those with felony convictions. The ex-employee said she was told to find an internship for the student, even if she had to deceive the employer.
DeVry Inc. shut all 13 of its Chicago-area DeVry University and Chamberlain College of Nursing campuses Monday, citing an emailed threat that was deemed a "potential security issue," The Chicago Tribune reported. Little information was provided about the nature of the threat, but DeVry officials said in a statement that local authorities had declared it safe to reopen the campuses today.
Corinthian Colleges, Inc., a chain of for-profit colleges, said in a federal filing Wednesday that the U.S. Education Department had rejected "many" of the company's requests for new programs because of concerns about its reporting of job placement and other information. Company officials disputed an assertion made in a January letter from the Education Department that Corinthian had "admitted falsifying" placement or grade information, saying instead that the company had detected and reported to federal authorities "isolated instances" of misreporting.
Submitted by Paul Fain on February 5, 2014 - 3:00am
A group of 50 organizations has written to officials at the White House and U.S. Department of Education to "urge the administration to issue promptly a stronger, more effective" set of gainful employment regulations. The group includes higher-education associations, faculty unions, consumer advocates and veterans organizations.
In December a panel of department-appointed negotiators failed to reach consensus on the proposed rules, which would affect vocational programs at for-profit institutions and community colleges. The department is expected to issue its final draft standards in coming months. A period of public comment will follow their release.
Submitted by Paul Fain on January 31, 2014 - 3:00am
The federal government this week announced the launch of a new online complaint system for college students who are veterans or active-duty members of the U.S. military. The Education Department and Department of Veterans Affairs, as well as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, are participating in the interagency effort to protect students and Post-9/11 GI Bill investments. The complaint system will be a way for students report negative experiences with colleges and universities. Veterans groups called the announcement a "game changer," according to Stars and Stripes.
A DeVry University graduate will be among First Lady Michelle Obama’s special guests at this evening’s State of the Union address, the White House announced Tuesday.
Sabrina Simone Jenkins of Charleston, S.C., a single mother who worked full-time while graduating from college, was selected to sit in the House gallery with Mrs. Obama. The First Lady’s guests are often mentioned in the president’s speech and are selected to highlight key themes of the address.
The White House said Jenkins’ story illustrated perseverance and a determination to improve oneself.
“After servicing in the Air Force,” according to a White House press release, Jenkins “took classes at DeVry University while working full time, graduating with a 3.7 GPA at the age of 42 – all while caring for ailing family members and becoming seriously ill herself.” She then earned a masters degree in human resources.
Jenkins now owes nearly $90,000 in student loan debt, “something that will only worsen” as she pays for her teenaged daughter to attend college, according to the information provided by the White House.
The president's advisors have said this year's speech will focus on “opportunity, action and optimism” and will reflect the administration’s desire to move forward unilaterally with executive actions the face of a gridlocked, divided Congress.
But few other details have been released, leaving it unclear what, if anything, Obama will say about higher education tonight. In his most recent addresses to Congress, Obama has warned colleges about rising tuition and pushed accreditation as a lever to slow the growth of college costs.
Another guest of the First Lady will be 23-year-old Cristian Avila, a “DREAMer” and immigration reform activist from Phoenix, Ariz. Avila was brought to the United States illegally as a child and received temporary relief from deportation through the administration’s deferred action program.
Submitted by Paul Fain on January 28, 2014 - 3:00am
Several holding companies of major for-profit chains announced Monday that they have received letters of inquiry from attorneys general in a group of states, usually a dozen or so. The investigations center on business practices, such as the recruitment of students, graduate placement statistics and student lending activities, according to corporate filings. The companies include Career Education Corporation, ITT Educational Services Inc. and Corinthian Colleges Inc. The investigations have been in the works for years, and feature a growing number of for-profits.
Submitted by Paul Fain on January 28, 2014 - 3:00am
Citing a "very difficult financial situation," National Hispanic University has stopped enrolling new students, according to the San Jose Mercury News. Laureate Education, a large for-profit chain, bought the San Jose-based university in 2010, announcing plans for it to grow to 8,000 students, many of them attending online. The university was struggling before the purchase, and has failed to right itself in the last few years. Its enrollment stands at just 600 students. And last year the U.S. Department of Education withdrew federal financial eligibility for the university's liberal arts programs, straining its finances.