Michael Santoli and Bill Alpert at Barrons reveal that the U.S. Department of Education is reviewing the operations of Kaplan Inc., the for-profit education institution owned by the Washington Post Company. The reason for DOE’s concern appears to be the default rate for students who take out loans to attend Kaplan University, a subsidiary of the Kaplan company. According to the article:

Kaplan higher-ed’s numbers have been getting worse. In the first two years after graduation, defaults at four of the school’s 33 reporting units were above 25%, which is the level at which they are at risk of Department of Education sanctions. At the online Kaplan University, defaults rose from 6% for 2005 grads to 13% for 2007 grads, with preliminary numbers for 2008 worse, around 16%.

And student loans are very, very important at Kaplan. Some 87.5 percent of Kaplan University‘s revenue comes from federal financial aid.

According to the Barrons article, the for-profit education business made up 58 percent of the Washington Post Company’s 2009 revenue.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer