A group of students from for-profit schools now have a grassroots organization so they can advocate for their interests. Students for Academic Choice recently elected its first president, Dawn Connor, a 33-year-old Wisconsin student. The term “grassroots” is a matter of debate, however. According to an Associated Press article by Eric Gorski:

Standing closely behind [Connor] is the Career College Association, a lobbying group for for-profit schools that provided the organizational muscle to launch the grassroots-sounding Students for Academic Choice at a time when for-profit colleges are under fire.

The Career College Association helped the students establish a website, draft bylaws and set up an online election that resulted in Connor being elected the group’s president — all at a time when for-profit colleges are intensifying lobbying efforts against tougher federal regulations expected to be proposed in the coming days.

Connor, a student at Globe University, a for-profit school based in Minnesota, will end up paying almost $44,820 for a two-year associate degree in veterinary technology.

Christine Lindstrom, higher education program director at the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, said that she was “skeptical of the organic nature of [Students for Academic Choice] given that it is completely towing the association’s line.”

Currently the Students for Academic Choice website consists only of a petition against the Department of Education’s definition of Gainful Employment. The proposed definition would make for-profit schools ineligible for federal financial aid if average graduates need to spend more than 8 percent of starting salaries to pay off student loans.

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