Higher Education Truths
WASHINGTON - (July 21, 2011) - Those opposing for-profit institutions of higher education have based their arguments on two fundamentally unsound and misleading justifications:
- That for-profit institutions account for 10 percent of students, receive 23 percent of federal student loans and grants and account for 44 percent of defaults and;
- That the GAO found "15 out of 15" schools it visited to be engaged in deceptive recruiting practices.
Opponents of for-profit institutions contend that students at for-profit institutions represent 44 percent of loan defaults. But according to data released by the U.S. Department of Education in connection with its gainful employment regulation, students from for-profit institutions represent approximately the same percentage of the total loan default dollars as they do of total Title IV dollars drawn. Students benefiting from Title IV and attending for-profit institutions are often non-traditional, minority students with little family financial support.
The often misleading citation of the default metrics is similar to the repeated use of the GAO's biased and erroneous report on for-profit institutions.
- On November 30, 2010, the GAO issued a significantly revised version of the report. The issuance of a revised GAO report is extremely rare. Out of over 1,000 reports issued in the past year, only 16 were later revised.
- The GAO's own internal investigation found significant flaws in the creation of the report - so much so that the agency demoted the senior official responsible for the creation of the report and the unit tasked with its development.
- On May 17, 2011, an internal GAO memo was released which cited further evidence that the GAO not only mishandled its August 2010 report critical of career colleges, but the agency knowingly and deliberately bowed to political pressure from Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee staff members. The end result was an inaccurate and biased report. Also included was the admission from the GAO that "because a summary of X of 15 schools was requested, we then went back and stretched whatever we could find to come up with a number for the testimony. This was done in haste and is where most of our corrections come from."
- On July 13, 2011, the House Appropriations Committee found that the GAO's report included "significant mistakes and misstatements in its analysis of the for-profit college sector."
- 16 out of 28 "scenarios" were revised by the GAO - in all cases, the original examples were shaded against career colleges.
The Coalition for Educational Success includes many of the nation's leading career colleges, serving more than 350,000 students at 478 campuses in 41 states. Career colleges provide training for students in 17 of the 20 fastest growing fields. The Coalition advocates for policies that support wider access to higher education, particularly for non-traditional students including full-time workers, workforce returners, working parents, minorities and veterans.