Congress/legislation

'Bad Apples' or Something More?

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WASHINGTON -- Two weeks ago, the hub of the federal government’s scrutiny of for-profit higher education was the U.S. Department of Education, where a team of staffers were putting the finishing touches on a set of proposed regulations aimed at reining in abuses of the federal financial aid program.

The Senate Scrutiny Begins

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WASHINGTON -- Senate Democrats began their investigation of for-profit higher education here in earnest Thursday, holding the first in what they promise will be a series of hearings aimed at better understanding the sector’s value to students and taxpayers.

For three hours, the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee heard testimony that, taken together, amounted to a largely scathing overview of the sector.

Pell Shortfall Persists

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WASHINGTON -- A Senate panel wavered a bit from its House of Representatives counterpart, producing a 2011 funding bill Tuesday that aims to protect Pell Grants from cuts -- but doesn't fully fund the program -- and boosts funding to the National Institutes of Health.

At a brief drafting session, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies approved a bill that provides $169.6 billion in discretionary funding, including $66.4 billion for the Education Department.

Congress's 'Secret Shopper'

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WASHINGTON -- A government report detailing the findings of an undercover investigation of for-profit colleges’ recruiting tactics reveals admissions and financial aid officers engaged in unethical and sometimes illegal practices, all in the interest of persuading students to enroll and obtain federal financial aid.

Shellacking the For-Profits

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WASHINGTON -- Senate Democrats made it clear Wednesday that their examination of for-profit higher education has only just begun, and that they plan to pursue legislation aimed at reining what they see as the sector’s dishonest -- if not fraudulent -- practices.

Has the Conversation Changed?

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WASHINGTON -- Leaders in for-profit higher education have historically tried to deflect criticism of the institutions by pointing to a few misbehaving "bad actors" who aggressively recruit unqualified students, keep them enrolled for as long as possible while burying them in debt and, if students stick it out long enough, award them worthless degrees.

With Friends Like These ...

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The House investigation of Rep. Charles Rangel has focused in part on whether the congressman broke ethics rules while raising funds for a public service center at the City College of New York, but the panel’s recent report also suggests college officials were working hand-in-glove with Rangel as he solicited money from companies known to have business interests before a committee he chaired.

Did the Department Drop the Ball?

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WASHINGTON -- The Government Accountability Office’s “secret shopper” investigation of recruiting practices at for-profit colleges was a mixed blessing for the U.S. Department of Education.

At one level, the findings presented at last week’s Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing were a vindication. Videotaped evidence pointed to fraud at four colleges, and questionable or deceptive practices at all 15 campuses investigated.

A New Leaf at Phoenix?

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For-profit giant -- under fire in Congress -- announces shifts in recruiting tactics.

Watching a Watchdog

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The Washington Post faces questions over its support for for-profit higher ed -- including visits to Congress by Don Graham on behalf of Kaplan.

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