Strayer University this summer will begin offering a scholarship under which undergraduates can earn a free senior year if they stick with their degree programs, the for-profit institution announced this week. Students will qualify for a free course credit for every three they compete, and can earn the full 25 percent discount on a degree as long as they do not take two consecutive quarters off. The "graduate fund" builds on a new tuition freeze and an existing, substantial scholarship program the university created last year. Several major for-profits have discounted their prices amid a general trend of declining enrollment.
A bill is dead to create a fourth college system in California to award credit and degrees to students but offer no courses, according to the head of the state Assembly's higher education committee.
The bill would have created the "New University of California," which would have issued credit and degrees to anyone capable of passing certain exams. The bill received criticism and news media attention even though it had an uphill battle to become law: its sponsor is Assemblyman Scott Wilk, a rookie Republican lawmaker in a Democratic-majority legislature.
“Of course we need to look at creating different paths for students to achieve college completion,” Das Williams, the Democratic chairman of the Assembly's higher education committee, said in a statement. “At the present time the author of the AB 1306 has decided to pull the bill. This bill, and others like it, must be closely reviewed and solution-oriented to ensure that they meet our state’s higher education goals and prepare our students for a robust career in the workforce.” A spokesman for Wilk did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on the bill's fate.
The bill is just one of several across the country this year to suggest new models for graduating students. Another, which is sponsored by the leader of the California Senate, is still believed to be very much alive. It would require California's 145 public colleges and universities to grant credit for certain low-cost online courses offered by outside groups, including classes offered by for-profit companies.
In Florida, a measure is advancing that would allow Florida officials to accredit individual courses on their own -- including classes offered by unaccredited for-profit providers.
United States University, a for-profit institution has agreed to pay $686,720 to the government to settle a civil suit filed over the filing of fraudulent financial aid applications, KPBS reported Federal officials said that the case was notable because they had brought criminal and civil cases against the institution. Christina Miller, who was the director of financial aid, pleaded guilty to falsifying federal records (Pell Grant applications) and could face up to a year in prison. Officials of the university did not respond to requests for comment.
Massachusetts is suing Sullivan & Cogliano Training Centers Inc., charging it with false advertising, The Boston Globe reported. The state says that Sullivan & Coglian advertised that 70 percent to 100 percent of graduates found jobs in a medical office, when the actual figure is less than 25 percent. “For-profit schools are extremely expensive and heavily funded through federal student loans, so all taxpayers have a stake in this,” Attorney General Martha Coakley said in a statement cited by the newspaper. “If students do not receive these promised jobs and wind up in default, the students and taxpayers suffer the consequence while the schools continue to profit.” Sullivan & Cogliano did not respond to requests for comment on the suit.
New York City's comptroller, John C. Liu, and the city's pension funds this week announced that they have filed shareholder proposals calling on DeVry University and Career Education Corp. to disclose data on student borrowing that is roughly the equivalent of what would have been required under the now-stalled federal "gainful employment" regulations. The funds are investors in both for-profit institutions, and can therefore introduce requests that are considered by shareholders. Career Education had sought to bar a vote on the proposal, according to Liu's office, but the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission ruled against the company.
An effort in Wisconsin to create standards for for-profit colleges has collapsed, The Wisconsin State Journal reported. The state panel had been considering rules that would have required for-profit colleges to show that 60 percent of students who started programs finished them and found jobs. But the panel working on the standards was disbanded, the newspaper reported, amid criticism from the for-profit colleges and some lawmakers.