Sunday, September 19, 2010

The for-profits keep the pressure on gainful employment rules

Even though the comment period on the Department of Education's gainful employment rules is over, the for-profit sector is clearly keeping up the fight.  This morning's New York Times (Washington edition) has a big, full-page ad (split across two pages) in the front news section (click on the picture to see a larger version of it).  Navigating to the URL shown in the ad,, takes you to a website with all the reasons why the proposed gainful employment rules should be tossed out.

It's a little difficult to figure out who created the website, until you look at the very small print at the bottom of the page:
The website is sponsored by Corinthian Colleges, Inc., one of the nation's largest for-profit higher education providers.  A recent report by Education Sector on the impact of the proposed gainful employment rules found that 15 percent of the Corinthian Colleges programs would face restrictions under the rules.  The report also noted that the firm had recently reported to analysts that "89 percent of its revenue comes from federal aid programs and only about 1 to 2 percent comes from cash payments from students."  Yes, you read that correctly: student payments represented only 1 to 2 percent of the firm's total revenues.  Clearly, the loss of eligibility for Title IV federal student aid funds poses a major threat to the firm's continued growth and viability.

Don't be surprised to see continued pressure and lobbying from the for-profit sector, at least until the Department's rules are finalized (due by November 1).  The Chronicle of Higher Education reported this week that the industry had given almost $100,000 in campaign contributions in the first seven months of the year to members of Congress who had sent letters to Secretary Duncan asking him to reconsider the rules.  Many of these letters are prominently featured on the "My Career Colleges" website.  The Chronicle also tallied the hundreds of thousands of dollars in lobbying costs incurred by for-profits this year, an amount that represented a large increase over last year.  For example, the article noted that Corinthian Colleges spent $310,000 in lobbying costs in the second quarter of this year, an almost 200  percent increase over last year's $110,000.

[Update]  When I finally got around to reading the rest of the Sunday Times, I discovered this full-page ad on the front of the second news section (again, you click to see a larger image):

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