350,000 grads, $7.5 billion of debt

San Diego's Bridgepoint test case of DeVos proposal

The Oakland-based independent Institute for College Access and Success this month released a study showing that 350,000 two-year or four-year grads of for-profit colleges left school in 2012 with a collective $7.5 billion of debt.

The institute got the data from combing through earlier government studies. The report seems to have been timed to refute Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ proposal this month to drop the “gainful employment" regulation of 2015 meant to assure that students graduating from for-profit schools made enough money to pay off their student loans. “The gainful employment rule is needed to prevent programs like these from bilking students and taxpayers,” said James Kvaal, president of the institute.

The United States Senate has issued studies on the non-profit schools. Then-Sen. Tom Harkin, head of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, noted that in 2008 students at for-profit schools accounted for 10 percent of enrollees but a stunning 44 percent of loan defaults. Since for-profit schools get around 85 percent of their income from government-sponsored programs, such as Pell grants, people are concerned that the for-profits are ripping off the government as well as the students, who have consistently low graduation rates and high fees.

San Diego’s Bridgepoint Education came under study of the Senate committee. Harkin noted in 2010 that in Fall, 2009 Bridgepoint signed up 48,000 students and later added 77,000. Over the school year, there were 125,000 enrollees, but at year-end there were only 67,000. “What do you think happened to their [federal] loans?” asked Harkin. Did students get them back? “Not on your life. Bridgepoint kept them; the money went to [Bridgepoint’s] shareholders,” said Harkin, who called Bridgepoint “”an absolute scam.”

As earlier reported, Bridgepoint stock shot up sharply after DeVos made her proposal. It has stayed up.

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The creditor set has completely adopted the credo of the street corner pusher: "Get them hooked, the younger the better."

At every level of society, success is now equated with predation and the zero sum. Government used to be the only brake on private plunder; now it's the gas pedal.

When will We the People be 'too big to fail' and get our debts written off?

Cassander: Today's real (inflation-adjusted) average wage is about the same as it was 40 years ago. Wage gains have gone to the rich. Individual, corporate, and government debt are staggeringly high. When interest rates rise (when, not if), there is a real problem. Best, Don Bauder

NEW YORK TIMES SLAMS DEVOS IN EDITORIAL. The New York Times today (August 27) said in an editorial that DeVos' suspension of the gainful employment rule is "a scandal." She is "rescuing her friends in the for-profit college business," said the Times. The publication noted that last year DeVos hired a lawyer from Bridgepoint, Robert Eitel. (That was reported at the time of the hire, and shortly the Reader picked it up.) The editorial mentions that under DeVos, the team "tasked with investigating fraud at for-profit schools" has been dismantled.

The Times noted that under DeVos, the education department has suspended investigations into Bridgepoint. Earlier, the publication had reported that Eitel had recused himself from Bridgepoint-related matters. (Such recusals often have questionable meaning, however.)

The for-profit education industry is riding a "taxpayer-backed gravy train," says the Times. "This is what happens when an administration stocks its agencies with people whose allegiances are to the industries they are meant to oversee." Best, Don Bauder

In this current environment, the NYT can be counted on to slam anything/everything coming out of the Trump administration. That's a foregone conclusion. But the editorial is correct about the nature of Bridgepoint, and its complete dependence on the federal government for its income. Don't lose sight of the fact that many of the most prestigious universities in the US are getting huge funding from the government every year. Calling such operations as Stanford "private" is amusing in that it would probably fold if the federal funding were to stop.

Bridgepoint has carried that dependence upon federal largess to its ultimate conclusion of offering the bait of a college degree to uninformed and unprepared students, and then delivering it only when the student stays the course and earns the degree in spite of what the "school" actually provides. But I'll say again that if the public universities along with the legitimate private ones reached out to the veterans and others who are victimized by Bridgepoint and brought them in, slimy outfits would have slim pickings. The notion of a college degree for everyone who wants one and is willing to work for it is a good one, and the colleges and universities should do far more to open their doors.

Ain't that the truth:

"This is what happens when an administration stocks its agencies with people whose allegiances are to the industries they are meant to oversee."

The telecoms rule the FCC, coal & oil rule the Environmental Agency, the FDA is ruled by the food & drug industries … it just goes on and on. Not just under tRump, but through history.

Many self-governing organizations are just as bad: The American Medical Association, for instance, like the Bar Association and all the others, is designed to protect the interests of its members—not the public (though they pretend otherwise).

You, Citizen, are on your own. Whether you are an employee, a consumer, a student, a voter or a person using a smartphone- you have no rights and powerful forces will take advantage of you.

swell: Of course the AMA's mission is to protect the medical industry. However, the mission of the EPA should be to protect the environment, not protect those who would exploit and pollute it. The mission of the Interior Department is to maintain the national park system, not permit oil drillers on the premises. Best, Don Bauder

Thomas Weller: Hungry rats. Best, Don Bauder

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