COME OUT AND GET ENGAGED IN POLITICS----WE CAN REVERSE THIS BY SIMPLY RUNNING AND VOTING FOR LABOR AND JUSTICE IN ALL PRIMARIES!
As I said, Clinton started the privatization of universities and the for-profit education corporations and below you see the same neo-liberals in Congress when Clinton did this are now part of the ring connected with the movement of almost a trillion dollars in Federal funding to these for-profit education corporations. There is no doubt that Clinton neo-liberals set up the structures for these frauds and Bush simply allowed them to go wild. Obama pretended he was going to change the structures that allow all this fraud but he never did.
'For-profit colleges are a kickback scheme where politicians enact favorable legislation and regulations that allow for-profit colleges to maintain access to student loans and grant money. The for-profit colleges then "give" a small cut of the federal money back to the politicians to enact favorable legislation'.
This is yet another trillion dollar corporate fraud that has yet to be recovered and Wall Street pols think they are going to stick it all with students and taxpayers===
TruthOut.org / By Danny Weil
For-Profit Education Fraud Tied to Political Elite A bipartisan group of the nation's political leaders have close ties to for-profit college scams. Now, an $11 billion lawsuit is forcing some of them into the spotlight.
April 20, 2012 | On Friday, April 13, 2012,
Courthouse News reported a class-action lawsuit by students filed in federal court against the Art Institute of California and its owner, Educational Management Corporation (EDMC). As reported in Truthout, Sen. Olympia Snowe's (R-Maine) husband, former governor of Maine John McKernan, is chairman of the board of EDMC and a former CEO of the company. The company also faces an $11 billion false claims lawsuit by the federal government and 11 states.
The lead plaintiff in the class-action suit, Chinea Washington, claims The Art Institute of California, Hollywood, led her to believe that federal grants and loans would cover the entire $89,000 cost for a bachelor's degree in interior design.
In November 2011, after three years of study, Washington was provided notice by the "college" that she had reached the federal loan/grant aggregate limit of $52,340 and that it would cost $37,000 to complete the degree. Washington dropped out with $52,160 in debt. Because The Art Institute's credits are not transferable, Washington has been swindled out of $52,000 and three years of her life.
The only way to describe $89,000 for a four-year degree with non-transferable credits from a non-academic college is as a fraud and a swindle, and that characterization possibly fails to convey the frustration and downright victimization students like Washington must feel.
Like subprime mortgages, for-profit colleges are a scam driven by payment of commissions to sales staff known as recruiters. The payment of commissions to high-pressure salespeople is so central to the scam that the umbrella trade group for for-profits, the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU), has sued the federal government to overturn its ban on incentive pay.
It cannot be stated strongly enough: for-profit colleges could not engage in the ongoing exploitation of students and theft of federal money without the direct cooperation and assistance of the federal government in what can only be termed an immoral economy. The same forces that demonize everything government does or attempts to do are busy feeding from the government trough. The hypocrisy is untenable, the federal subsidies unfathomable and the lack of criminal prosecution unconscionable.
For-profit colleges are a kickback scheme where politicians enact favorable legislation and regulations that allow for-profit colleges to maintain access to student loans and grant money. The for-profit colleges then "give" a small cut of the federal money back to the politicians to enact favorable legislation.
In the cases of Senator Snowe and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California), their husbands have operated under the cover of their wives as they directly benefited, and continue to benefit from, their positions as shareholders in for-profit college companies. Snowe and Feinstein are accomplices in the ongoing evisceration and defrauding of citizen taxpayers and students, which explains the pair's complete silence on this matter.
The so-called ruling class of government officials and elected politicians, to which Feinstein and Snowe clearly belong, is little more than a gaggle of white-collar criminals which facilitates and benefits from the diversion of taxpayer money into private coffers. It all takes on the appearance of legitimacy. Unfortunately, this is not a victimless crime. Like Washington, thousands of students who attend these subprime institutions are left with tens of thousands of dollars of nondischargeable debt which ends up ruining their lives.
There is a vast network of former and current government officials who actively participate in the for-profit college swindle. Some of the conspirators are well known, and include: Mitt Romney, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-North Carolina), John Kline (R-Minnesota), Alcee Hastings(D-Florida), Trent Lott (R-Mississippi), Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee), Steve Gunderson (R-Wisconsin), Virginia Democratic Party Chairman Brian Moran, Snowe, Feinstein, Nancy Pelosi (D-California), and John Boehner (R-Ohio). The group also includes Obama administration officials and supporters such as Lanny Davis, Anita Dunn, Hilary Rosen, Anthony Miller and Charles Rose.
This is the people's solution to getting rid of student loan debt-------MAKING WALL STREET WRITE OFF THE DEBT SINCE IT WAS FULL OF FRAUD AND PREDATORY AND SUBPRIME LENDING. This is indeed what would happen if we did not have a Congress full of Wall Street neo-liberals and neo-cons. The Robin Hood Tax is a solution for recovering Wall Street fraud all around----but discharging the debt from the end of Wall Street and not the Federal government is what WE THE PEOPLE WANT.
Think as well the LIBOR fraud that hits these student loans-----and these loans last for years. That needs to be deducted as well.
Wednesday, Jul 3, 2013 08:45 AM EDT
Let’s abolish student loans altogether! A Robin Hood tax on Wall Street could make education free again for millions of Americans
Les Leopold, AlterNet
Anyone with a heartbeat knows that Wall Street took down the economy, killed millions of jobs and hasn’t had to pay a penny for the damage it caused. In fact we are paying them for crashing the economy in the form of trillions in bailouts and low interest loans.
Well, maybe it’s time for Wall Street to contribute, rather than siphoning off our wealth. How about a sales tax on all transfers of stocks, bonds, and derivatives in order to fund tuition-free higher education?
Why are high schools free but colleges aren’t?
Access to higher education is vital to our economy and to our democracy. Today a college degree or post-high school professional training are the equivalent to what a high school diploma provided and signified a generation ago. For over 150 years, our nation has recognized that tuition-free primary and secondary schools were absolutely vital to the growth and functioning of our commonwealth.
By the middle of the 19th century, New York City also provided free higher education through what would become the City College of New York. Hunter and Brooklyn colleges also were tuition-free, as was California’s rapidly growing post-WWII state college and university system. The GI Bill of Rights after WWII provided significant resources to over three million returning veterans to go to school tuition-free, which in no small part, helped to build American prosperity for the next generation. (Tuition was even provided if GIs attended private colleges and universities.) A further impetus to free higher education came as America fell behind the USSR during the Sputnik-era space race.
But the spread of free higher education stalled and then retreated precisely as Wall Street began to grab more and more of the nation’s wealth. As financialization transformed the economy starting in the late 1970s, average wages flattened while Wall Street incomes shot through the roof. At the same time taxes on the super-rich collapsed placing more and more of the burden on working people. Lo and behold, free higher education rapidly became “unaffordable.” Wall Street then swooped in with loans as students and their families loaded up on debt in order to gain access to higher education. This is the very definition of financialization.
As Student Loans Rise, the Rich Get Richer
As student loan debt climbed ever higher, the super-rich continued to rake in more and more income, especially in comparison to the rest of us.
Many financial elites rose to riches by packaging and selling every kind of toxic asset imaginable. They made fabulous amounts as they pumped up the housing bubble, and then made even more as it imploded. It turns out that wealth was based on hot air, as well as plain old cheating. (See How to Make a Million Dollars an Hour for a detailed account.) So far, neither Wall Street nor its super-rich patrons have been forced to pay for the damage they caused.
How to Make Wall Street Pay
It’s not easy to tax the super-rich when they have their hooks so deeply into both political parties. However, the student debt crisis opens the door to force a provocative public debate:
- Are we resigned to be vassals to Wall Street elites or can we redirect resources to invest in our young people?
- Are we going to saddle our kids with decades of debt or are we going to make the Wall Street gamblers pay the damage they caused?
Of course, you’ll hear Wall Street apologist moan and grown about how such a tax will kill jobs, steal from your pension funds, and rob your kids’ piggy-banks. All lies.
Unless you play with your 401k like a high frequency trader—which means you’ll be fleeced by them anyway—you won’t feel this tax. Neither will your pension funds, which are not supposed to churn your investments anyway.
As for jobs, when was that last time Wall Street produced real jobs on Main Street? They would just as soon finance a job smashing merger or the movement of jobs out of the country. The only jobs that would be hurt are a few at high frequency hedge funds that milk markets by making millions of automated trades per second. For the sake of financial stability and fairness, they should be put out of business anyway.
No, when it comes to hitting Wall Street elites, a financial transaction tax is just about perfect.
Let’s encourage Elizabeth Warren to take the next step
Senator Elizabeth Warren opened the door to this debate as she attempted to stop student loan interest rates doubling to 6.8 percent in July. On July 1, they doubled. She wants the Federal Reserve to loan money to students at the same rate it charges too-big-to-fail banks, which is next to nothing at 0.75 percent.
Of course, most politicians and pundits think she’s off her rocker. How dare she try to interfere with “market forces”? But as Ellen Brown of the Public Banking Institute shows in her excellent rejoinder (“Elizabeth Warren’s QE for Students: Populist Demagoguery or Economic Breakthrough?“), it makes economic as well as ethical sense to invest in our young people. In fact, it makes a whole lot more sense than propping up too-big-to fail banks that have grown even fatter since the crash.
But why have any student loans at all?
Why accept the perverse idea that students should saddle themselves with decades of loan repayments in order to gain access to higher education? Even with interest rates at 0%, we’re still asking students and their families to load themselves up with tons of debts in order to get access to the advanced skills and knowledge our economy and our democracy desperately need.
Isn’t it in the national interest to invest in our young people, rather than loading them up with debt?
Can we really beat the Street?
Maybe. It starts with having the nerve to ask for what we really want, rather than compromising before we start. Do we think Wall should pay reparations for what it has done to the economy? Do we think it fair to use that money to fund free higher education in order to rid our young people of crushing debt? If the answers are yes, we can start organizing.
The next step is to convince those working on the Robin Hood Tax to tie it to free higher education. That would allow financial transaction tax advocates to reach out to an enormous constituency—students and their families.
And yes, we also we need some organizational magic, not unlike what sparked Occupy Wall Street. Perhaps, websites like AlterNet.org can link up with like-minded media outlets and progressive groups to form a vast coalition of the pissed-off! Millions might be ready for that.
The anger toward Wall Street is there. The outrage over ever-rising student debt is there. Now is the time to connect the two and provide some extra organizational juice.
No one has a magic bullet and no one can guarantee success. But unless we try, we will guarantee that Wall Street and its Washington minions will continue to rip us off.
Surely we have enough creative energy to build another path.
Below you see one side of the student loan debt forgiveness debate. Clinton neo-liberals and Bush neo-cons, knowing that any forgiveness will mean the Federal government will pay the debt to Wall Street----are pressing this idea of forgiveness as if it was good for the students. Corporate pols know many students will never be able to pay back these loans and with the coming economic crash-----most will definitely won't. So, to save the banks decades for pressing the impoverished for repayment of student loans----let's get another government bailout of Wall Street ----this time for fraudulently administered private student loans.
As this article states-----discharging these loans would place the Federal government in charge of what these Congressional pols are saying was corporate fraud. They are setting the precedent for all of the other private for-profit education fraud to be discharged and sent to the taxpayers. Never once did they say------prosecute these corporations for fraud and have them write-off the debt.
Look at who the Congress people are in this article asking that the Federal government pay for the discharge and not a mention of recovering it as fraud and write-offs by banks......Clinton neo-liberals!
Supposedly, having the Federal government pay all of this fraud will make them more careful is the logic.
Senators Ask Dept. Of Education To Discharge Student Loans For Everest, WyoTech, Heald Students
By Chris Morran December 10, 2014
While Corinthian Colleges — the failing for-profit educator behind schools like Everest University, WyoTech, and Heald College — sorts out new owners for most of its properties, several thousand of the schools’ students are left in limbo, unsure of who is responsible for their education — and unsure if that pricey education is worth the huge loans they’ve taken out to pay for it. Yesterday, a group of a dozen U.S. Senators asked the Dept. of Education to consider giving these students a way out of their federal student loans.
The letter [PDF] points out that the law provides “avenues for relief from overwhelming debt taken on by students at duplicitous colleges,” but that it requires the Dept. of Education to flex its regulatory muscle to make those loan discharges happen.
“For this reason, we are writing to request that the Department… to utilize that authority and immediately discharge federal student loans incurred by borrowers who have claims against Corinthian.”
This would include students covered under pending suits filed by attorneys general in states like Massachusetts, California and Wisconsin. In fact, it may cover all Corinthian students nationwide, as the company is currently being sued by the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
These lawsuits have alleged, among other claims, that Corinthian misled applicants about graduation rates and job-placement statistics in an effort to convince them to take out high-priced student loans that are guaranteed by the federal government and which generally can’t be discharged, even in cases of bankruptcy.
The Dept. of Education has previously stated that borrowers may request a discharge by asserting that the loan isn’t legally enforceable on the basis of a claim against the school, but the Senators point out that “The process for doing so… is far from clear.”
And so they have asked the Dept. of Education to clarify whether the current pending state lawsuits against Corinthian are sufficient to demonstrate that a loan isn’t legally enforceable.
If so, would students in states where the attorney general hasn’t filed suit be able to use those other states’ claims to make the case for loan discharge?
The letter also requests information from regulators on how the Department can clear up the process for requesting a discharge.
There is also the question of whether affected student loan borrowers would be reimbursed for any amount already paid on a loan.
A rep for Corinthian tells the Wall Street Journal that the Senators are getting ahead of themselves by assuming that the allegations in the pending lawsuits are true.
“The authors of this letter take the deeply unjust position that the federal government should act on the basis of unproven allegations which are being vigorously contested in court,” explains the CCI rep. “Their logic is dismayingly clear: Anyone who has been accused of anything is presumed guilty.”
It’s not surprising that the Dept. of Education has been dragging its feet on clarifying its stance on loan discharges for CCI students, as there are potentially billions of dollars in loan principal and interest that could be lost.
On top of the conspiracy to defraud in the actual process of providing Federally insured student loans----Wall Street was taking billions of dollars more in yet another fee for service scheme-----the Auction Rate Securities ARS.
So, beyond the fraud in delinquent student loan collection that is tacking on thousands of dollars in fees and service charges known to be fraudulent-----Wall Street tacked on these fees tied to ARS----over years this amount becomes noticeable for each individual student loan holder. Notice that this fraud is again aimed at government coffers and the public.
REMEMBER, WHEN A GOVERNMENT SUSPENDS RULE OF LAW IT SUSPENDS STATUTES OF LIMITATION! WE WILL RECOVER THE PEOPLE'S WEALTH STOLEN BY CLINTON NEO-LIBERALS AND BUSH NEO-CONS!
'The rule of law cannot be arbitrary based on whether or not a financial giant is prosecuted and fails, or if men like Blankfein claim they are “doing God’s work” and “serving a social purpose.” '
Today the INSIDER EXCLUSIVE “Goes Behind The Headlines” in
WALL STREET‘S $336 BILLION FRAUD –AUCTION RATE SECURITIES (ARS)
….. to examine how Brad Gilde, Founder of the Gilde Law firm is successfully pursing justice on behalf of victimized individual investors and organizations such as Student Loans Lenders, Port Authorities, Universities, Health Care Providers/Groups, Housing and Financing Agencies, etc. – Governmental and Quasi-Governmental entities…
…Many of whom were misled by Wall Street institutions including Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, Merrill Lynch and UBS AG who marketed these securities as being a safe investment, although it was later found otherwise and investors were misled. Many were told that the market for ARS , was "Completely safe. Completely liquid. Just another form of Triple-A rated cash equivalents”
What they failed to disclose to their clients was that the financial market was in serious trouble and only when the investors were told the then-$336 billion market was "frozen" in early 2008 did investors learn that it was a scam; underlying bonds and preferred stocks were not liquid at all, but distressingly long term.
This massive fraud perpetrated on America by the Wall Street gang in this Insider Exclusive Investigative TV Special …. is explained in easy to understand detail by Brad Gilde, who is successfully representing many of these victims.
Brad provides real insight into the criminal subculture of Wall Street and the shady dealings of wall street brokers and their handling of their clients who bought Auction Rate Securities ( ARS ) and then hung them out to dry…. when the market for them collapsed…and what victims can do about it now.
ARS interest rates were higher than money markets and were sold as “completely safe, liquid, Triple-A rated "cash equivalents," ….a deceptive sales pitch that lured hundreds of thousands of investors to buy the securities. While this is a classic 21st century tale of Wall Street greed and betrayal…. it is also a story of redemption and the life-altering struggle of American investors and others around the world who, in the end, are successfully fighting the Wall Street fraud-masters.
Remember, America is a nation of laws, and allegedly follows the rule of law implying that every citizen is subject to the law in contrast to the idea that the powerful and wealthy are above the law by divine right. However, the law is hardly applied without distinction in this country…. evidenced by the very small number of wealthy bankers and powerful financial leaders imprisoned for crashing the world’s economy during the financial meltdown of 2008.
Over the past couple of months, large financial institutions have begun being held accountable for cheating investors and earning billions of dollars in the process,….but aside from paying fines in plea bargains and possibly compensating bilked investors…. it is still impossible to jail a bank or a corporation. But, the people responsible for raping investors and stealing companies can be prosecuted and jailed… but sometimes it appears they are “too rich, too powerful, and too big to jail”.
In fact….Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman Sachs CEO, told an News interviewer that: “he believes banks have divine right to special treatment because they are “doing God’s work.” According to Blankfein, “We’re very important… we help companies to grow by helping them to raise capital. Companies that grow… create wealth….. And in turn, this allows people to create more growth and more wealth. It’s a virtuous cycle.”
Financial institutions may not face prosecution because they cannot go to jail, but the men and women committing fraud, money laundering, and deceiving investors can be criminally prosecuted and sent to jail. However, financial institutions can be forced to make restitution for billions and billions of dollars they stole from investors and struggling firms
The rule of law cannot be arbitrary based on whether or not a financial giant is prosecuted and fails, or if men like Blankfein claim they are “doing God’s work” and “serving a social purpose.” Five plus years after the meltdown of the largest fraud ever perpetrated on Wall Street …. the nightmare that defines the world of auction-rate securities goes on.
While Wall Street, Washington, and the media would very much like to leave the pain encompassing the ARS market largely in the rear view mirror…. for many individuals who still hold on to the hope that they may ultimately get repaid in full from these widely distributed “cash-surrogate” instruments, the pain and anxiety remain front and center.
Brad Gilde is one of the top auction rate securities lawyers in the nation who is successfully holding fraudulent brokers accountable, and helping victims to recover their money.
And….If you are one of the thousands of investors nationwide misled by an investment firm advising you on auction rate securities….. don’t remain in financial limbo, with your funds frozen in what you once were told was a safe cash investment
Brad Gilde has earned the highest respect from citizens and lawyers alike…. as one of the best Trial lawyers in Houston,…. In Texas….. and across America . His goals….. Not ONLY To get Justice for his clients…but to make sure Banks and Investment houses are held accountable. These successes drive him to help more people who had been harmed by Wall Street firms. Brad has built a substantial reputation by consistently winning cases other law firms have turned down. His amazing courtroom skills and headline grabbing success rate continue to provide his clients with the results they need……And the results they deserve.
Kaplan owned Washington Post and walked away with a fortune of fraudulent gains and no attempts to recover fraud has happened. So, you have Wall Street and this for-profit education corporation conspiring to defraud the Federal government of billions of dollars just as Wall Street conspired with CitiBank to create subprime mortgage loans to defraud the Federal government-----and still no recovery of fraud. Notice that many in Congress where clearly involved in the Insider Trading that came with the legislation that allowed all this to happen. We could pay off all of the trillion dollars of student loan debt simply by recovering fraud. CLINTON NEO-LIBERALS ARE TEAMED WITH BUSH NEO-CONS TO FLEECE THE AMERICAN PEOPLE FOR WALL STREET AND CORPORATE PROFIT.
This article is very long but please glance through.....it shows just one for-profit education corporation and the fraud----imagine how many of these corporations sprang up when Clinton came on board and how long over a decade of widespread fraud.
WHEN YOUR POLS PRETEND THAT AUSTERITY IS NEEDED TO PAY OFF A NATIONAL DEBT OF $17 CREATED BY ALL THIS FRAUD----THEY ARE TELLING YOU YOU HAVE NO RIGHTS AS CITIZENS AND WHAT IS YOURS IS MINE.
Scandal at The Washington Post: Fraud, Lobbying & Insider Trading
Rusty Weiss — March 8, 2012
In the summer of 2010, business columnist for The Washington Post Steven Pearlstein lifted the veil on the little-known company operating procedure that involves an incestuous relationship between his own employer, and the scandal-plagued, for-profit university known as Kaplan.1 In his column, Pearlstein made the argument that while personnel in the newsroom may have nothing to do with Kaplan, they most certainly have “benefited from its financial success.”
So what is it about Kaplan that has been so beneficial to Post employees? Aside from being one of the largest for-profit colleges in the country, Kaplan is not only a subsidiary of The Washington Post, up until recently it has been the single most profitable aspect of the company. In 2009, the year prior to the Pearlstein article, Kaplan accounted for 58% of the Post’s revenue and generated the bulk of company profits, while newspaper and magazine publishing—in other words, journalism—accounted for a mere 19% of revenue and operated in the red.2 In 2010, Barron’s estimated that the value of The Washington Post company was roughly $8.5 billion, and that Kaplan represented about $5 billion.3 So it was no surprise when Pearlstein stated that Kaplan “has provided the handsome profits that have helped to cover this newspaper’s operating losses.”
With a financial resumé like that, and status as the cash cow keeping the Post afloat, why wouldn’t CEO Don Graham be singing the praises of Kaplan University? Perhaps because there is a longstanding history of allegations of fraudulent practices, with hundreds of millions of dollars of profits diverted to Kaplan executives. Perhaps it’s also Kaplan’s generation of such profit on the backs of poor students and returning war veterans, preying on their vulnerabilities only to later reward them with degrees of questionable value, massive student-loan debt, and little employment opportunity. Perhaps it is Kaplan’s curious hiring of lobbyists to influence legislation at the state and federal levels, including a former Obama staffer, Anita Dunn, just as the heat was being turned up on for-profit colleges to rein in out-of-control practices.
Whatever the reasons, Kaplan remains part of an industry that provides little educational value for its students--and raises many questions about how it has compromised the integrity of The Washington Post newspaper.
In 2010, Bloomberg investigative reporter Daniel Golden relayed the story of Keith Melvin, a disabled Iraq War veteran who had been awarded a medal for “outstanding dedication to duty.”4 Upon returning home from his tour of duty, Melvin sought to pursue collegiate studies in the legal field. He performed an online search, filled out forms, and was eventually contacted by Kaplan University. The university convinced Melvin that it could further his educational pursuits through a litany of phone calls and e-mails, pressuring him to commit. One selling point that sealed the deal? Kaplan’s relationship with the prestigious Washington Post Company.
“With Kaplan having its credentials backed by The Washington Post, I thought, ‘How can this go wrong?’” Melvin said. “It sounded too good to be true, and it was.”
A former admissions adviser for Kaplan explained how The Washington Post was used in their sales pitch to prospective students.
“One of the things that I always said was, ‘As you may know, Kaplan is owned by The Washington Post, a paper known for having really high ethics,’ he said. ‘As you can imagine, The Washington Post would never involve itself in anything that would reflect poorly on its reputation.’”
But the prestige and high ethics promised by a relationship with the Post never materialized. Melvin learned the hard way, as have other students, that the Kaplan experience consists of “high prices, uneven performance and shady marketing practices.”5 Worse, the university, for all of its selling points, has a dropout rate of nearly 70%, and those who do graduate earn well below the national average for college graduates—outcomes not exactly befitting of a money-making juggernaut and its supposedly ethical parent company.
Unfortunately, Melvin’s experience is not an isolated incident. Targeting and recruiting veterans is such a common practice among for-profit colleges that it prompted Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois to introduce legislation which would eliminate the financial incentive for these colleges to aggressively recruit veterans into pricey programs.6 A report in the Chicago Tribune explains that “military veterans are being aggressively recruited… because of their lucrative forms of federal aid, such as GI Bill funds and Department of Defense tuition assistance benefits.” Such funds are not bound by the 90/10 rule, which bars the for-profits from deriving more than 90 percent of their revenue from the Department of Education’s federal student-aid programs.
Veteran enrollment helps Kaplan circumvent the 90/10 rule, because GI Bill benefits don’t count as government assistance under the law. Congress further aided the for-profit industry by granting a $2,000 exemption per student to the 90/10 rule. Kaplan reported that it “got less than 87.5 percent of its receipts from federal student grants and loans in the fiscal year ended Jan. 3, 2010,” just short of the 90% cap.7 Putting a cap on this source of federal money means placing a limit on the university’s ability to generate revenue. As it stands, the 90/10 limit threatens access to billions of dollars in federal student aid in the for-profit industry.
While Kaplan targets and recruits veterans, in particular because of the federal funding opportunities, it certainly doesn’t restrict questionable tactics to these students. The student complaint board on their website shows over 130 current complaints by students at the college, ranging from general fraud, to misappropriation of funds, to “ignorant service.”8
In 2009, The Wall Street Journal reported on seven Kaplan campuses which had a three-year dropout rate over 30%, a clear indication that the university had been using aggressive marketing tactics to enroll students regardless of their ability to pay.9 Meanwhile, most students who do graduate discover that the grandiose promises of careers and large salaries were merely a sales ploy—and in fact, the product offered by Kaplan has substantially less value than that offered by traditional public and private colleges.
A report from a leading for-profit research company explains that such universities are little more than “marketing firms who happen to market education.”10 A recent shareholder lawsuit against The Washington Post and its CEO Donald Graham was dismissed in December 2011 after the Post filed a motion to dismiss (pages 47-53).11 The lawsuit had alleged that the Post defrauded investors by engaging in deceptive and unethical business practices. The lawsuit was tossed, shockingly enough, because the motion to dismiss argued that the unethical practices were common knowledge, and therefore investors had not been misled. The Post essentially admitted that Kaplan had been running little more than a telemarketing scheme.12 In that filing, the Post stated that it was ‘no secret’ that the Kaplan Higher Education Corporation (KHE) operated under a business model that “depended upon the recruitment of low-income and minority students who were dependent upon federal loans and grants.” The Post concurred that the KHE was operating “football field sized call centers that made use of telemarketing techniques and sales goals.”
Marketing materials at Kaplan University show the depths to which recruiters were required to sink:
“If you can help them uncover their true pain and fear. If you get the prospect to think about how tough their situation is right now, if you talk about the life they can’t give their family right now because they don’t have a degree,” the flier instructs, “…You dramatically increase your chances of enrolling this prospective student. Get to their emotions, and you will create the urgency!”
With a university whose singular goal is to meet quarterly sales quotas by targeting low-income, minority, and veteran students, regardless of their ability to pay, it’s no wonder Kaplan’s business model results in consistent failure to serve the students they claim to help, along with consistently low graduation rates, high number of loan defaults, and a high level of dissatisfaction.
Up until 2011, for-profit colleges had seen consistent double-digit growth in annual revenues, extracted from a litany of federal grants and loan programs under the Title IV program.13 The industry has been generating billions of dollars of revenue through predatory business practices akin to those in the subprime mortgage industry.14
For-profit universities earn money off the backs of service men and women, minorities, and low-income targets (some instances have recruiters seeking out prospective students in homeless shelters), with promises of government loans and grants, and post-graduation employment. At the same time, these colleges are using revenues obtained from the federal government to lobby politicians and weaken regulation. Politicians, backed by corporate influence, have facilitated the transfer of tens of billions of dollars of public funds to these schools in the form of federal grants and loan programs. The result is a staggering level of profit with little of value provided to students or taxpayers.
So when a school like Kaplan pulls in billions of dollars, who has benefitted the most? The very people who are perpetuating the money-making scheme—the executives.
Between 2003 and 2008, executives at Kaplan received stock option payouts of $289 million dollars—nearly half of the school’s entire operating income during the same time frame.15,16 In 2003, Kaplan handed over $119 million in executive pay, more than double the university’s operating income that year, which came in at $58 million.
Nowhere is such lavish compensation more personified than with the case of Jonathan Grayer, former head of the Kaplan education unit, who resigned in 2008.17 Grayer’s resignation, after 17 years at the school, resulted in a $76 million severance package.18 The package included a $20 million bonus paid out in November of 2011, more than the university’s entire third quarter operating income of $18 million.
Meanwhile, The Washington Post, which reported over $6 million in losses during that same quarter, closed a majority of regional news bureaus, and was charged by The Washington Post Guild with “unjustly laying off employees and targeting employees of color.”19,20,21 Recently, they announced the buyout of up to 48 newsroom staff as a cost-cutting measure.
More importantly, under Grayer’s direction, Kaplan and the Post have been involved in the aforementioned shareholders lawsuit, more than a dozen whistleblower lawsuits, and have been the focus of multiple state and federal investigations.22
It can therefore be concluded that the Post did not reward Grayer based on academic performance, but rather on his ability to generate revenue for the company—ignoring the ethical quandary that his leadership created.
Last summer, The New York Times reported that the Department of Education and Congress had placed Kaplan and other for-profit institutions under the microscope, because of their recruiting practices and high loan-default rates. The Education Department issued final regulations which will go into effect next July, “requiring career college programs to better prepare students for ‘gainful employment’ or risk losing access to the federal student aid that, on average, provides more than 85 percent of their revenue.”23
Further regulatory efforts will take effect in 2014, but will provide little protection for low- income students to avoid being shackled with unaffordable debt that cannot be discharged through bankruptcy.24 In fact, the 2014 regulations instituted by the Department of Education allow for schools like Kaplan to continue generating funds off the backs of students and taxpayers, allowing colleges to have a loan default rate of up to 40% in any one year, and up to 30% over 3 years.
Lobbying Against Regulation
Despite the announcement of weak regulatory measures, recent years have seen bi-partisan support in Congress against such regulations, and overall support for the controversial industry. The list of high-profile names that support these for-profit organizations include presidential candidates Ron Paul and Mitt Romney, Speaker of the House John Boehner, Dianne Feinstein, Jesse Jackson, and Nancy Pelosi.25,26 Last year, Pelosi broke rank with her party and voted to keep billions of dollars in federal student aid flowing into the coffers of for-profit colleges.27 Boehner backed deregulation of the online learning industry, supporting the removal of a law known as the 50 Percent Rule back in 2006, eliminating legislation that had protected students by limiting how many could enroll in online courses.28 The rule was actually put in place back in 1992 in an attempt to curb waste and abuse of federal student aid programs by for-profit colleges. Repealing the 50% rule opened up the floodgates for online enrollment, allowing these colleges to acquire further capital from Wall Street for expansion.
The Obama administration has attempted to rein in for-profit colleges by imposing tighter regulations and limiting the role of private companies in student lending. They vowed to stop for-profit colleges from luring students with false promises. A New York Times article described it as “an opening volley that shook the $30 billion industry” where “officials proposed new restrictions to cut off the huge flow of federal aid to unfit programs.”
However, opposition to such regulations has continued to be an across-the-aisle effort, with Democrats and Republicans alike having accepted funds from such institutions, while simultaneously advocating on their behalf, ignoring the ongoing threat to veterans and low-income students.
Kaplan in particular has come under fire from liberal Democrats and the administration itself, for allegedly conning students into taking out federal loans for a mostly worthless education. During The Washington Post Company’s annual meeting in 2011, Chairman Donald E. Graham acknowledged that his company had been hurt by congressional hearings and negative publicity over Kaplan’s controversial business practices.29 Representatives of stockholders have been repeatedly asking about the future of the company if profits are further cut by government regulation, with some suggesting that the Post may try to sell Kaplan in order to avoid further losses.
So what does one do when their billion-dollar cash cow is threatened? Lobby lawmakers to water down regulations on your behalf, of course.
While Graham refused to name any members of the House or Senate that he had personally lobbied during the annual meeting, there is little doubt that the Post has pulled out all of the stops in order to survive financially and stall regulations that would affect Kaplan. Graham called scrutiny of for-profit colleges an “unusual situation,” and assured shareholders that Kaplan had changed its ways in an attempt to prevent students from being saddled with too much debt, and nothing to show for it. Such lobbying hasn’t been limited to Graham’s speeches at shareholder meetings.
Roll Call had reported last year that “…Kaplan University, which is owned by the Washington Post Co., paid $110,000 to Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld in the first quarter of this year to lobby on the issue and $90,000 to Ogilvy Government Relations.”30 At the end of 2011, funds directed to lobbying efforts were at their highest level ever for The Washington Post, topping out at $1 million, including a final tally of $210,000 to Akin, Gump et al, and $180,000 to Ogilvy.
Source: Open Secrets Blog
Cliff Kincaid of Accuracy in Media reported on the ties between these lobbying firms and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle:31
“Vic Fazio, a former Democratic Congressman from California, is a leader on the Akin Gump team, while GOP operative Wayne Berman leads the Ogilvy effort. The Washington Post Co. has also retained the Democrat- connected firm of Elmendorf Ryan to make its case.”
When adding in Elmendorf Ryan’s $160,000, over half-a-million dollars was spent on three major lobbying firms, with the singular goal of easing federal regulations related to Kaplan’s questionable business practices.
The Post, however, ramped up its lobbying efforts with the hiring of former White House communications director, and good friend to President Obama, Anita Dunn. Dunn played a key role in shaping the Kaplan message that abuse and misconduct were not industry-wide, while aiming to “blunt the impact” of the proposed regulations. She assured The New York Times that, while she has visited the White House roughly 80 times since her departure, she did not speak to colleagues about the issue.32
A major target of the Post and other education companies’ lobbying efforts has been the so-called “gainful employment” rules—rules that seek to tie the cost of higher education programs to the amount of money a graduate can expect to earn and loan repayment rates.
The resolution was designed to reduce the number of higher education loans that are going into default. Youth Today reported that in the first quarter of 2011 alone, “The Washington Post and its subsidiary Kaplan Inc. spent a total of $490,000 on lobbying, including paying five different lobbying firms,” focusing specifically on the gainful employment rules. The New York Times reported that the Post had spent a whopping $1.6 million in lobbying Congress on the gainful employment regulations alone. Bloomberg reported that, “publication of that rule was delayed last year, following a lobbying effort by for-profit colleges.”33
Donald Graham even took the unusual step of writing an editorial for The Wall Street Journal, which urged the White House to change the rules to “avoid disaster for low-income students.”34 A mere two months later, Graham threatened to impose his own disaster upon these same students, attempting to bully Congress into modifying the 90/10 rule, warning that he was willing to raise tuition rates on the financially struggling student body if they did not comply.
In the end, efforts to rein in regulations on the Kaplan money machine were successful and the threat of a major crackdown posed by the gainful employment rules had been averted after lobbying by Washington insiders. On June 2nd, rules handed down by the Department of Education had been significantly weakened.
The Times described it as such:
“…after a ferocious response that administration officials called one of the most intense they had seen, the Education Department produced a much-weakened final plan that almost certainly will have far less impact as it goes into effect next year.”
Millions From Insider Trading
In the summer of ’09, The Wall Street Journal did an exposé on for-profit colleges and their default rates, which featured the following statement:35
“For-profit schools are favorite targets of short-sellers, or investors who try to profit on bets that stocks will fall, and many have focused on default rates. For-profit schools receive more than $16 billion annually in federal student aid, and taxpayers are on the hook for loan losses.”
And with the recent victory at the lobbying table, the Graham family itself benefited after they had successfully kept their money-making machine intact.
In the days after the Obama administration announced a watered down version of the gainful employment regulations, stocks in every publicly traded college corporation rose, with some soaring in gains by over 20%.36 The message had been delivered—significantly weakened regulations would have little bearing on the industry’s profitability.
Armed with the knowledge that Kaplan’s stock rose after the regulation package was introduced, Post Chairman Donald Graham, sold off 24,000 shares in trusts benefitting family members, totaling $12 million. The timing raised eyebrows but the reasons seem clear, as Washington Post Company stock had jumped 9% immediately following reports of the new regulations, while settling back to near-average prices shortly thereafter.37
More curious was Graham’s insistence three months after the stock sales that “I have not sold a share of Washington Post Company stock in over 30 years nor has any trust for my benefit.”38 While the June selloff was not for Graham’s personal benefit, he did perform the transaction on behalf of his family’s trust.
As for the family stock selloff, Graham explains that, “I am also a trustee of several trusts for the benefit of other members of my family. From time to time, these family members who also started out life heavily concentrated in Post stock have asked their trustees to sell stock when, for example, they want to buy a house.”
But the claim of sporadic stock sales for occasional large purchases simply doesn’t ring true. The Graham family has a history of multimillion dollar stock sales over the past four years, in which several of the transactions mimicked the post-regulation stock sale, with prices plummeting after the selloff. For instance:39
- In April and May of 2008, the Graham family sold $29 million in stock at an average of roughly $675 per share, and within days the price dropped to $585 per share. (Chart A)
- In August and September of that same year, the Graham family sold another $14 million in stock, then watched the stock price plummet from $600 per share to $400 per share. (Chart A)
- The aforementioned stock sale of $12 million this past summer was at a cost of $420 per share, dropping 100 points three weeks later, when quarterly reports showed a decline in yearly income of 50%. (Chart B)
- Publisher Katharine Weymouth—who is Don Graham’s niece—sold $45,000 in stock in June of 2011.
Chart B. Source: Market Watch, Wall Street Journal
Additionally, according to a Daily Censored report last year, $20 million in sales were allegedly executed on behalf of Don Graham’s ex-wife’s in April of 2008.
Considering the Graham family’s apparent ability to predict major drop-offs in the company’s stock, one has to wonder about the legality of what appears to be insider trading taking place. At best, Donald Graham has not been honest in telling the media that the family only sells stock when it comes time to buy a house. They sell when they see the most potential for profit. With the post-regulatory stock sale, it is clear that the Graham family prospered by dropping stock immediately after the regulations were announced, possibly with knowledge in hand that future reports would show a year over year income drop of 50%.
Insider knowledge of Kaplan’s business performance, and The Washington Post stock value has been incredibly beneficial to the Graham family.
The Washington Post has seen a decline in newspaper circulation and journalistic business that they have been almost solely reliant on the success of their cash generating education business, Kaplan University. Chairman of the Post Company Don Graham has willfully turned a blind eye to allegations of fraudulent business practices, excessive student debt and hardship, and exorbitant executive compensation at the for-profit college. At the same time, Graham has actively engaged in lobbying to help generate profits on the backs of the very students he claims to serve, and also engaged in suspicious stock trading that has greatly benefited his family.
Even worse, The Washington Post remains a supposedly reputable staple of the mainstream print media, while refusing to report on one of its own despite media coverage from many other sources. The Post’s failure to report nearly all adverse news about Kaplan even prompted its former Ombudsman, Andrew Alexander, to write a piece which argued that the “Post needs to beef up its coverage of allegations against Kaplan.”40
Any company, such as Kaplan, that has been subject to so many government investigations and lawsuits, would be reported on by most responsible news organizations. Why does the Post bury its head in the sand on the Kaplan story, and is Graham personally responsible for suppressing such information?
It’s a question The Washington Post has yet to answer.