Although summer officially started just a few weeks ago, most for profit, Title IV participating educational institutions would just as soon it was over.
Starting with a series of media exposes in the Spring 2009, and continuing through June of this year, a bleak picture of for profit career colleges has been painted by the media and key members of Congress, a picture in which institutions are alleged to have taken advantage of consumers and of taxpayers.
Most of the stories read the same: For-profit institutions in this sector of higher education, fueled with Title IV funding, are over-selling their offerings to under-qualified people. The media exposes have lead to—so far—a House Hearing on accreditation and a Senate hearing on the for-profit sector, with more hearings on offer for later this summer. The picture being drawn this summer, of a sector rife with the abuse of federal funds, is what the Chair of a key Senate committee asserts is now happening.
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), stated at the start of a Senate Committee hearing last week: “We have a responsibility to ensure the taxpayer dollars are being spent wisely and that for-profit colleges are serving students, not just the shareholders.” Harkin also said Congress has "a responsibility to ensure this opportunity is real, and not just false hopes peddled on a billboard or pop-up ad.”
After a decade of what some observers allege is relatively inconsequential oversight of for-profit institutions, mirrored by dramatic growth in student enrollments in degree programs and revenues provided by Title IV funding, Congress and the Administration have begun taking a hard look at the sector.
For profit schools enroll about 10 percent of all college students, but they get nearly a quarter of the funds dedicated to student aid under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965.
“There’s something happening out there that compels us to look at this," Harkin said regarding these facts.
The summer is far from over, and we can expect to see more Congressional interest in this area. Watch for more hearings, GAO reports and more media stories.
RELATED: Read an article about the June 24 report on for-profit institutions released by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.
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