forprofit

Sally Stroup to Leave For-Profit College Group

Sally Stroup will step down as executive vice president for government relations and legal counsel for the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU), which is the for-profit industry's primary trade group. A spokesman for APSCU confirmed the group was "working on an appropriate transition" for the position.

Stroup is a veteran of higher education policy, having served in the U.S. Department of Education during the George W. Bush administration. She also spent 14 years on Capitol Hill, including an influential stint for the U.S. House of Representatives' Education and Workforce Committee in the 1990s. Between those chapters in her career, she worked for the Apollo Group, which owns the University of Phoenix.

APSCU is facing many of the same challenges as the sector it represents. Most of the publicly held chains have left the association during the last year. The group last month announced a restructuring, including a name change and return to focusing on its career-school roots.

ACLU May Sue Grand Canyon on Same-Sex Benefits

Grand Canyon University has received a letter from the Arizona branch of the American Civil Liberties Union about the for-profit institution's policy regarding employee benefits and same-sex spouses, according to a column in The Arizona Republic.

The university is a Christian-based institution. The letter from the ACLU Arizona legal director states, "On behalf of Grand Canyon University employees who have contacted our office about their denial of health insurance and other employee benefits based solely on their marriage to a person of the same sex … the denial of benefits to LGBT employees in same-sex marriages is in violation of federal law and severely harms those employees and their families."

The university is examining its policies.

"We are also proud of our record with regards to the diversity of both our student body and our employee base. To this point, like many employers, we have not provided marital benefits to same-sex partners. In light of recent Supreme Court and [Equal Employment Opportunity Commission] rulings, we are currently evaluating those policies as part of our plan," said Bob Romantic, executive director of GCU's communications office, in an email.

GCU has been exploring a change in its status to a nonprofit institution. Last year, the university's chief executive officer incorporated a nonprofit organization, dubbed Gazelle University. And last month, documents were filed with the Internal Revenue Service to allow Gazelle to acquire GCU's real estate, which would allow the university to make that transition.

Some nonprofit Christian colleges fear they may lose their tax-exempt status by refusing to extend benefits to employees in same-sex relationships, although many others do not expect such a challenge.

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Push to Protect Students at Unaccredited Law Schools

The State Bar of California is moving toward adopting a rule to require unaccredited law schools to disclose their dropout rates, The Los Angeles Times reported. California is one of a few states to allow graduates of unaccredited law schools to take the bar exam. The move to require more disclosure from the unaccredited law schools follows a report in the newspaper that about 90 percent of students leave before finishing their programs.

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FTC Will Investigate Career Ed

Career Education Corporation disclosed Monday that it received a "civil investigative demand" from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission on Aug. 20, according to a corporate filing.

The federal agency's request requires Career Ed to provide documents and information from January 2010 to the present, and the investigation is to "determine whether unnamed persons, partnerships, corporations or others have engaged or are engaging in deceptive or unfair acts," related to advertising, marketing, or sale of educational products or accreditation services.

"The company is evaluating the request and intends to cooperate with the FTC," according to a statement within the filing. The FTC has sent similar investigative requests to DeVry Education Group and Apollo Education Group.

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CFPB investigates for-profit Ashford University's lending program

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The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is launching an investigation into Bridgepoint Education and Ashford University's student lending practices.

Retired NBA Players to Enroll in Kaplan University

Five retired NBA players are receiving scholarships to attend Kaplan University and study online to earn certificates, bachelor's or master's degrees.

The players -- Adonal Foyle, Joe Smith, James Donaldson, Kevin Loder and Eldridge Recasner -- received the scholarships during the National Basketball Retired Players Association annual conference in Las Vegas.

"Like most Kaplan University students, retired athletes are juggling a lot of competing responsibilities. They're older, raising families and also want to make a lasting difference not just in their own lives, but in the larger community," said Craig Collins, senior vice president of Kaplan University Corporate Development, in a news release. "So a university like Kaplan, which today is helping some 41,000 adult learners pursue their education and career goals, fits into their playbook, because of its convenience."

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California Attorney General Investigates U of Phoenix

Apollo Education Group said Friday that it is being investigated by California's attorney general, Kamala Harris. The inquiry relates to the University of Phoenix, which Apollo owns, and students who are veterans or members of the U.S. military or California National Guard, according to an Apollo corporate filing.

The investigation follows a broad information request last month from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, which is scrutinizing allegations of deceptive marketing by Phoenix. That investigation also includes the recruitment of military students.

Apollo last week released a written statement by retired Army Major General Spider Marks, who is executive dean of the Phoenix's College of Security & Criminal Justice. "The university’s practices relating to compliance, training and student support services for military students should, we believe and hope, serve as a model for all institutions, organizations and companies," Marks said.

Laureate Paid Bill Clinton $16.5 Million

Laureate Education, a for-profit chain with a global reach, paid Bill Clinton $16.5 million between 2010 and 2014, Bloomberg reported last week. Clinton had served as an honorary chancellor for Laureate International Universities, a subsidiary of the privately held company, which is among the world's largest higher education providers.

He stepped down earlier this year, after his wife, Hillary, officially launched her campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. Laureate had not disclosed how much it paid the Clintons. But Hillary Clinton's campaign released the couple's tax returns on Friday, Bloomberg reported.

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Kaplan, Lincoln Tech Settle with Mass. Attorney General

Kaplan Career Institute and Lincoln Technical Institute have settled with the Massachusetts attorney general, Maura Healey, to resolve allegations of inflating job placement numbers and employing unfair recruiting tactics, Healey's office said in a written statement. The settlement is part of Healey's broad pursuit of the for-profit industry. Kaplan agreed to pay about $1.4 million to resolve the suit. Lincoln paid about $1 million. Most of the money will go to help eligible former students who attended the two for-profit chains to pay down their debt.

In a written statement, Kaplan, Inc., said it "emphatically maintains that its actions were compliant and in the best interests of students, who were well-served by the institution." The settlement did not include a finding of wrongdoing, and Kaplan said it resolved the legal challenge "due to the high cost of protracted litigation."

FTC Investigates U of Phoenix Parent Group

Apollo Education Group, which owns the University of Phoenix, disclosed in a corporate filing Wednesday that they received a civil investigative demand from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.

According to the filing, that "demand" relates to an investigation to look into allegations of "deceptive or unfair acts or practices in or affecting commerce in the advertising, marketing or sale of secondary or postsecondary educational products or services or educational accreditation products or services."

It requires Apollo to provide the federal agency with a broad range of documents and information about Phoenix, relating to the for-profit's chain's marketing, recruiting, enrollment, financial aid, tuition and fees, academic programs, academic advising, student retention, billing and debt collection, complaints, accreditations, training, military recruitment, and other matters. The request covers 2011 to the present.

Representatives from the company declined to comment and referred to the statement in the filing, saying: "Apollo is evaluating the demand and intends to cooperate fully with the FTC."

This is the most recent action taken by the agency against a for-profit institution since it charged the Georgia-based, online Ashworth College with misrepresenting the training and credentials students could earn, as well as whether credits from Ashworth would transfer to other institutions.

More than a year ago, DeVry Education Group received a similar demand from the FTC relating to the "advertising, marketing or sale of secondary or postsecondary educational products or services or educational accreditation products or services by DeVry Group during the past five years."

That investigation has been ongoing.

"The University of Phoenix investigation is important because of the national reach of the organization and because of the documents requested by the FTC," said Elizabeth Baylor, an associate director of postsecondary education at the Center for American Progress.

Those documents, including ones related to military recruitment, are important because a 2014 report from the Senate's Health, Education, Labor and Pensions -- or HELP -- committee found that Phoenix received the most GI Bill funds of any institution, totaling $750 million over four years, said Baylor, who also served as a senior investigator on the HELP committee under former Iowa Senator Tom Harkin.

Documents released by that committee after the end of its investigation into for-profit institutions also included an internal Phoenix email in which the company estimated "shockingly high" lifetime default rates for its students, Baylor said.

"This type of finding shows that the FTC plans to examine the practices of University of Phoenix might well be warranted," she said.

Phoenix has struggled in recent years as enrollment and revenue has plummeted. Most recently Apollo Group announced it was laying off approximately 600 employees, who were mostly "enrollment counselors."

Earlier this month the company announced they would revamp the admissions policy to become a more selective institution.

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