Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) announced Thursday that he plans to host a Chicago forum on for-profit higher education on Tuesday. Speakers will include two former for-profit students, the presidents of two public institutions, and executives from Career Education Corporation, Devry, Inc. and Kaplan University. The forum will consider "whether some for-profit colleges are exploiting rather than educating Illinois students" and include discussion of the industry's growth, reliance on the federal financial aid program and the value of the sector's degrees and certificates.
Durbin has been the most vocal member on the issue who is not on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee. Earlier this summer, he delivered a speech questioning the for-profit college business model. He was one of a half-dozen Democrats to sign onto a June letter asking the Government Accountability Office to initiate a wide-ranging investigation of the sector, and he wrote to the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs earlier this month asking for information on how federal tuition assistance for current and former members of the military is being spent at for-profits.