The Results Are In
By Paul Fain
A U.S. Senate committee released an unflattering report on the for-profit college sector on Sunday, concluding a two-year investigation led by Sen. Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat. While the report is ambitious in scope, and scathingly critical on many points, it appears unlikely to lead to a substantial legislative crackdown on the industry — at least not during this election year.
Issued by staff from the Democratic majority of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, the report follows six congressional hearings, three previous reports and broad document requests. The final result is voluminous, weighing in at 249 pages and accompanied by in-depth profiles of 30 for-profits. It questions whether federal investment through aid and loans is worthwhile in many of the examined colleges.
The investigation found that large numbers of students at for-profits fail to earn credentials, citing a 64 percent dropout rate in associate degree programs, for example. It also links those high dropout rates to the relatively small amount of money for-profits spend on instruction.
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