What Harkin Wants

WASHINGTON -- If it wasn't already clear that the U.S. Senate was putting plenty of pressure on for-profit colleges, the detailed information the body's leading voice on education is seeking from 30 companies and institutions makes it pretty obvious.

August 10, 2010

WASHINGTON -- If it wasn't already clear that the U.S. Senate was putting plenty of pressure on for-profit colleges, the detailed information the body's leading voice on education is seeking from 30 companies and institutions makes it pretty obvious.

At the end of last week's hearing on for-profit higher education's recruitment practices, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said he wanted to "get to the bottom of this." The this, of course, was everything about the for-profit sector -- from how many students each of the 15 publicly-traded companies enrolls to how institutions train and compensate recruitment, admissions and financial aid employees.

On Thursday, Harkin's staff directed the publicly traded companies and 15 privately held for-profit institutions to submit two dossiers in the next few weeks. The first, due Aug. 26, primarily consists of information related to management structures, revenue sources and enrollment totals. The second, due Sept. 16, includes several requests for all documents and e-mail messages related to recruiter performance, financial aid procedures and tuition hikes. The full request is available here. What follows is a sampling of requests.

Information due Aug. 26 includes:

  • Agendas, reports, financial statements and other documents provided to, or produced by, the college's board of directors or trustees.
  • A spreadsheet with detailed school-by-school data on revenue from sources including Pell Grants, all federal student loan programs, Department of Defense tuition assistance benefits, vocational rehabilitation funds, private loans, institutional loans, state loans, state grants, student-paid tuition, employer-paid tuition, and any and all other sources.
  • For the period July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2010, the number of students enrolled in online, in-person and hybrid programs; the number of new students enrolled each month by program, campus and mode of instruction; the total number of program completers each year; the total number who left by formally withdrawing or by stopping class attendance.
  • Detailed information, with randomized identification numbers, for each student who entered the college between July 1, 2007 and June 30, 2009, including enrollment date and completion or graduation status.

Information due Sept. 16 includes:

  • A spreadsheet with detailed school-by-school annual expenditures since the start of fiscal 2006. The committee specifically asks for totals spent on various kinds of advertising, direct mail, telemarketing, compensation for admissions representatives and managers, faculty compensation, executive compensation, financial aid administration, educational facilities, equipment including computers and furniture, curriculum development, litigation expenses, corporate debt interest payments, private distributions to shareholders.
  • Documents related to complaints from students and former students on admissions and enrollment, teaching, equipment, cost, financial aid, loans and debt, job placement, school administration.
  • All documents related to the possibility that a company or school is approaching or exceeding 90 percent of its revenue coming from the federal student aid program.
  • All documents concerning tuition increases, including increases in credit hour costs and increases in the number of credits required to complete a degree.
  • For the period Jan. 1, 2009 to the present, all documents about lead generators including agreements and documents listing how many contacts were generated.
  • Manuals, presentations, scripts and handouts used for training and supervising recruitment and admissions employees. Also, all materials used for training and supervising financial aid employees.
  • All documents related to performance and compensation of all employees involved in recruiting, enrolling or admitting new students.
  • All documents concerning recruiting in or near Department of Defense or Veterans Affairs rehabilitation facilities, wounded warrior transition units, homeless shelters, welfare and unemployment offices, or substance abuse and treatment facilities.
  • Details of any use of a debt management or default consultant employed to help former students manage debt, including providing advice on loan forbearance, deferment and income-based repayment plans
  • All documents about the U.S. Department of Education's shift from monitoring two-year cohort default rates to three-year cohort default rates.
  • All documents related to repayment of Title IV loans by the college to be replaced by institutional or private loans.
  • Details of any institutional lending program.
  • A document listing the name, address and phone number of all current and former presidents, deans or campus heads. The same information for the people in charge of recruiting, financial aid, student debt management, curriculum development, job placement, academics and marketing.
  • For the period Jan. 1, 2008 to the present, one copy of all written materials and disclosures provided to prospective students.
  • Details of all policies, plans, practices and procedures for tracking and recording job placement, employment rates and salaries of former students.


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