‘For-Profit’ Colleges Slammed in New Senate Report

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Earlier this week, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) released a report on for-profit colleges, the end result of a two-year study of the industry, its profits and recruiting methods. 

Sen. Tom HarkinSen. Harkin, chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said that billions of dollars are wasted on financial aid for private-sector colleges and universities, leaving many students saddled with debt and no degrees. 

“In this report, you will find overwhelming documentation of exorbitant tuition, aggressive recruiting practices, abysmal student outcomes, taxpayer dollars spent on marketing and profit, and regulatory evasion and manipulation,” Harkin is quoted by USA Today. 

“These practices are not the exception. They are the norm,“ he continued. “They are systemic throughout the industry with very few individual exceptions.” 

According to the report, U.S. taxpayers pumped $32 billion in student aid into “for-profit” colleges and universities during the 2009-2010 academic year. During the same timeframe, however, approximately half of all students enrolled in private sector universities or colleges dropped out. 

The report argues that “for-profit” colleges and universities place revenue over the education of its students. 

The report found that in 2009 “for-profit” colleges offering public stock in their companies had a profit margin that averaged almost 20 percent, with private-sector colleges spending 22.7 percent of revenue on recruiting and marketing programs and projects. 

The Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU) called the findings “politically motivated” and stated that the report did not accurately represent how institutions of the like operate. 

“The report twists the facts to fit a narrative,” reads the official APSCU response to the findings. “Proving that this is nothing more than continued political attacks on private-sector colleges and universities.” 

Photo from Media Dis-n-dat.