Last month, USA Today reported that House Education Committee Chairman Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., who has received generous campaign contributions from for-profit colleges, is pushing legislation that would protect the industry from losing federal aid, which accounts for much of their revenue. Kline and two others introduced the bill, titled “Supporting Academic Freedom through Regulatory Relief Act,” on July 10. It would prohibit the Obama administration from restricting federal student aid from schools whose students graduate with lots of debt and have low repayment rates.
The for-profit college industry became the subject of much criticism after a 2012 investigation by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee revealed excessive tuition prices, abhorrent recruiting practices, poor student outcomes and wasteful use of
The investigation reported taxpayers had spent $32 billion on companies that run for-profit colleges, but the majority of students who enrolled later dropped out. Federal data also shows that a majority of for-profit colleges receive more than 70 percent of their revenue from U.S. government programs.
Normally, Minnesotans might be proud to have one of their own representatives chair the House Education Committee. However, Kline’s recent legislative push is clearly a move on behalf of his big campaign donors and his constituents. His measure would ensure taxpayers and students continue to get burned by the shady practices of for-profit colleges.
Kline should reconsider whose interests he ought to represent in Congress. If he doesn’t, his constituents in Minnesota’s 2nd District should find someone else who can.