For-Profit Schools, Lobbying Update

In an effort to try and destroy the much-feared “gainful employment” rule the administration proposed for the for-profit education industry, for-profit colleges and their lobbyists are hard at work. According to a piece by Goldie Blumenstyk and Kelly Field in the Chronicle of Higher Education:

For-profit colleges… have gone on a lobbying and public-relations blitz, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in an attempt to beat back an Education Department proposal to cut off federal student aid to for-profit programs whose graduates carry high debt-to-income loads.

For-profit lobbyists and executives are swarming Capitol Hill and federal agencies, pushing an alternative plan that would require programs only to provide prospective students with more information about their graduates’ debt levels and salaries. Their message: The proposal would cost jobs and limit access to college at a time when President Obama is pushing education as a solution to high unemployment.

This message is slightly misleading. The proposal, under which schools wouldn’t be eligible for federal financial aid if average graduates need to spend more than 8 percent of starting salaries to service student loans, would mostly limit access to “career” colleges that don’t really help graduates secure much of a career. But such is the language of lobbying.

How heavy is the lobbying? Well, according to another Chronicle article, for-profit education groups spent more than $3-million in 2009-2010. The for-profits also contributed to political campaigns. Democrats got more than Republicans, probably because it’s the party in power. Congressman George Miller (D-CA-7th), the chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, got $71,661 from for-profit colleges. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH-8th) got $11,000.

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