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Trump administration could be a boon for private equity-owned for-profit colleges

March 27, 2018

From report “Private equity’s failing grade: Private equity investment in for-profit colleges

(Written jointly by Private Equity Stakeholder Project and Americans for Financial Reform)

Since taking office, Trump-appointed Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, herself the former chair of and current investor in a private equity firm[i], has moved swiftly to roll back oversight of and regulations governing for-profit colleges as a number of for-profit college industry figures, including Robert Eitel and Julian Schmoke, have joined the Department of Education.[ii]

For example, DeVos has failed to implement and moved to gut the Obama-era Gainful Employment Rule, which requires for-profit schools and programs to help students prepare for “gainful employment in a recognized occupation” to receive federal funding.[iii] More than one third (35%) of the 804 college programs that failed the Department of Education’s Gainful Employment Rule were at for-profit colleges owned by private equity firms.[iv] DeVos also is moving to erase the Obama Borrower Defense Rule, which established procedures for students harmed by their schools to have their federal loans cancelled. Thus far, 98.6% of all Borrower Defense claims have been filed by for-profit college students.[v]

The Department of Education under DeVos has also ceased coordination with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau[vi], a partnership which had resulted in multiple settlements with for-profit colleges and hundreds of millions of dollars in loan forgiveness, including a $24 million settlement at private equity owned Bridgepointe Education.[vii] DeVos also may give a sympathetic response to accreditor ACICS, which is now seeking reinstatement.

[i]“DeVos review identifies 102 financial interests with potential conflicts,” Politico, Jan 20, 2017.

[ii]“DeVos Embrace Of Predatory For-Profit Colleges Is Breathtaking,” Huffington Post, Sep 07, 2017.

[iii]“18 AGs sue Department of Education over Gainful Employment Rule,” CNN, Oct 18, 2017.

[iv] Gainful Employment DMYR 2015 Final Rates, US Department of Education.

[v]“College Complaints Unmasked: 99 Percent of Student Fraud Claims Concern For-Profit Colleges,” The Century Foundation, Nov 8, 2017.

[vi]“DeVos Tells CFPB to Back Off on Student Loans,” Bloomberg, Sept 8, 2017.

[vii]“For-profit Bridgepoint Education forced to forgive $24 million in private student loans,” Washington Post, Sept 12, 2016.

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