Financial information for-profit colleges submit to the U.S. Department of Education is inconsistent and generally not helpful, according to an audit by the department's Office of Inspector General. For-profits provide financial statements to the department as a requirement of their participation in federal financial aid programs. But those statements lack transparency, the audit found, because the presentation about instruction and marketing costs is not consistent across institutions.
A federal court has denied a request by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of the Inspector General for a trove of emails from The Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS), a consumer protection group. The department had sought to enforce a subpoena that asked for transcripts of email messages related to for-profits. At issue is whether Robert Shireman, who founded the group, might have violated a federal ethics law by discussing pending regulations while he was working as an official at the department.
A federal magistrate judge, in a court filing last week, said the subpoena was an overreach because TICAS has no financial or programmatic ties to the federal government. Department officials also "conveyed ambiguous messages" about the subpoena, according to the filing. And the judge wrote that investigators can talk directly to Shireman.
A federal judge on Friday approved a $5 million settlement between Chester Career College (over charges related to when it was called Richmond School of Health and Technology) and the for-profit's former students, the Associated Press reported The suit alleged that the school specifically recruited low-income students, who then borrowed money and didn't get much of an education at all. The fund will help the former students repay loans or obtain an education. A lawyer for the college said that the agreement did not constitute an admission of any of the charges.
Alumni and students of the Charleston School of Law are angry over rumors that the for-profit law school will be sold to the InfiLaw System, which operates three other for-profit law schools, The Post and Courier reported. The Charleston School of Law has not confirmed that a sale is imminent, but did announce last week that it had signed a "management services agreement" with InfiLaw that the law school said would improve the quality of programs at Charleston. But Kathleen Chewning, president of the Charleston School of Law Alumni Association, said that her members and students were concerned because they believe their law school is perceived as having more quality than those owned by InfiLaw. InfiLaw declined to comment, and its webpage says only that an "important announcement" is coming soon.
The California attorney general's office went to court Wednesday to seek to force Bridgepoint Education to turn over many documents, the Associated Press reported. The documents cover information about marketing, sales, and academics. The attorney general's office has been investigating reports of false advertising by some for-profit colleges, and officials said that Bridgepoint had failed to turn over the requested documents. A Bridgepoint spokeswoman declined to comment.
The House Committee on Education and the Workforce on Wednesday approved legislation that would prevent the U.S. Department of Education from drafting new "gainful employment" rules this fall. The bill, which some Democrats backed, would also repeal state authorization and federal credit hour regulations. If passed by the House and Senate, which is unlikely, the legislation would prevent the department from revisiting those issues until it renews the Higher Education Act.
Several major higher education groups endorsed the bill, including the American Council on Education. They said the legislation would eliminate burdensome regulations. The primary trade group representing for-profit colleges also supported it. However, some consumer protection groups and other higher education organizations came down on the other side. Rep. John Kline, the Minnesota Republican who chairs the committee, said he hopes the full House will vote on the legislation in coming weeks.
The legislation is unlikely to move in the Democratic-controlled Senate, though.