For-profit colleges abusing taxpayer money

The email below is from Congressman Mark Takano, a progressive champion in Riverside, California. Congressman Takano started a petition on CREDO Mobilize, where activists can launch their own campaigns for progressive change and defeat regressive policies. We strongly urge you to sign Congressman Takano's petition and help him build pressure on Republicans to choose college students over the for-profit college industry.

CREDO Mobilize
Stop for-profit colleges from taking advantage of students.

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Dear 5849376,

As a high school teacher for more than 20 years before I went to Washington, I know firsthand what students in my community need from post-secondary education. They need access to affordable degree and certificate programs that lead directly to good jobs.

But for many students who attend for-profit colleges, that's not happening. The for-profit college industry enrolls nearly 10% of all post-secondary school students and receives about 25% of all Pell Grants and federal student loans, yet the industry accounts for nearly half of student loan defaults. This is not acceptable.

That's why I am launching a campaign on CREDO Mobilize to fight back against the Republicans' efforts to protect the for-profit college industry and leave students without basic protections. My petition to Speaker of the House John Boehner and Chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce John Kline, asks the following:

Taxpayer-funded federal financial aid should not go to for-profit college programs that consistently leave students with unmanageable debt and worthless degrees. We urge you to oppose HR 2637 – the "Academic Freedom Through Regulatory Relief Act" – which would shut down the Department of Education's effort to rein in some of the worst abuses in the for-profit college industry, such as aggressive marketing, saddling students with unsustainable debt, and providing useless degrees, and leave students without even basic protections.

Will you join me in building pressure on Republicans to choose college students over the for-profit college industry?

Numerous investigations have revealed massive amounts of waste, fraud, and abuse in the industry, including deceptive and aggressive recruiting of students, false or inflated job placement rates, and dismal completion rates. Some schools have gone so far as to enroll people who are homeless, enroll students without their consent, and use tactics that invoke "pain" and "fear" to pressure students into enrolling.

In addition, some for-profit colleges receive close to 80% of their revenues from taxpayer dollars. Taxpayer-funded federal financial aid should not go to programs that consistently leave students with unmanageable debt and worthless degrees.

Thankfully, the Department of Education is currently working on new rules that would eliminate subsidies to so-called "career-oriented" higher-education programs that fail to prepare students for the workforce and whose graduates have high debt-to-income ratios and low loan-repayment rates.

Seeing the writing on the wall, the lobbyists who represent the for-profit education industry began working with their conservative Republican allies to move a bill through Congress that would bar the Department of Education from setting these rules, and actually roll back basic disclosure requirements.

Republicans are sending a message to the Department of Education that Congress doesn't want a strong set of rules for regulating for-profit colleges. With your help, we can urge enough lawmakers to oppose this legislation and send Congress our own message: that the for-profit industry's days of loading students down with debt before sending them out the door with dead-end diplomas are over. They're going to need a new business plan.

Join me today in speaking out against the Republicans' efforts to protect the for-profit college industry and leave students without basic protections.

Thank you for standing with me.

Congressman Mark Takano

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