Durbin: For-Profit School Raise Concerns That Lawmakers and Administration Must Address

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) raised concerns today that the rapidly growing number of students enrolled in for-profit colleges coupled with a dramatic increase in federal student aid dollars flowing to these schools may create a national crisis in higher education. Durbin made his remarks today in speech before the National Press Club.


“There is growing concern that we could be looking at a repeat of the subprime mortgage fiasco, with low-income, high-risk students mortgaging their futures – not on overpriced homes this time, but on worthless diplomas,” said Durbin. “Let me be clear: There are many good trade schools and for-profit colleges, and they serve a vital purpose, supplying job training that helps people take the next step up the economic ladder. But there are also a lot of bad for-profit schools that are raking in huge amounts of federal dollars while leaving students poorly trained and over their heads in debt.”


For-profit schools include everything from locally owned beauty schools to giant publicly traded chains such as the University of Phoenix, Kaplan University, and DeVry University. About a quarter of these schools offer bachelor’s degrees; a smaller number offer master’s and doctoral programs. There even are for-profit medical schools. But the vast majority of for-profit schools offer associates degrees or certificates in programs like medical billing, massage therapy, welding, fashion merchandising, and video game design.


Durbin suggested a number of steps that the Obama Administration and Congress could and should take to address the situation, including changing the “90/10 rule”; setting limits on the amount money schools dependent on federal financial aid could spend on marketing and advertising; changes regarding regulation of private loans and concerns about schools buying accreditation.