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For-Profit College Group Names Former Democratic Congressman as President

November 18, 2020

With Democrats in Congress and the White House, the industry group representing for-profit universities is hoping a former Democratic congressman will be able to head off stronger regulations of the industry.

Career Education Colleges and Universities named Jason Altmire, a centrist Democrat who used to represent the area just outside of Pittsburgh, as its new president and CEO. He served on the higher education subcommittee of the House education committee during his tenure from 2007 to 2013, when he lost a primary election after his western Pennsylvania district was redrawn.

He takes over the organization at a time when the industry is under fire. Consumer groups are calling for the restoration of regulations passed during the Obama administration that primarily affected for-profits, after they were repealed by the Trump administration. President-elect Joe Biden pledged during the campaign to restore the regulations, like the gainful-employment rule, which targets low-quality institutions by no longer allowing them to participate in the federal student aid program if too many graduates cannot repay their debt.

Altmire said in an interview that his time in Congress could help, though he said less because he had been a Democrat than the personal relationships built across party lines.

He said also that support by Democrats for canceling student debt “opens the door” to the industry’s argument that the cost of college is a problem for all of higher education, and that for-profit colleges shouldn’t be singled out.

“I believe in the mission of the sector -- to serve students and to help them acquire the skills necessary to compete in an ever-changing workforce. I look forward to working with the new administration and Congress to ensure that the success of this sector is measured by the same accountability metrics as all others in higher education,” Altmire said.

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Kery Murakami

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